[LA Life] Downtown Goes Dapper For A Night On Broadway

Last weekend as the threat imminent downpour loomed over the quite literal horizon, we decided to throw caution to the wind as we got dolled up and dappered out for a ‘Night on Broadway.‘ A party with a purpose, the second annual event sprawled through the stunning cityscape of Downtown Los Angeles and into the historic Broadway District.

Commencing back in 2008 under the guidance of L.A. City Council member José Huizar, Bringing Back Broadway set its sights on reinvigorating the entire outlying area, from the preservation and display of the old school neon signs to re-opening doors to awe inspiring theaters, bringing back the fabled streetcar and even the relatively new facade lighting brought onto Broadway in 2013.  A chip off of the ‘Bringing Back Broadway’ initiative block, the second annual ‘Night on Broadway‘  is designed to restore a variety old theaters in the fabled Broadway district and reinvigorate local interest in the art, music, culture and community of the area.

IMG_7764

Revelers are encouraged join in the shenanigans surrounded by the amazing architecture and interior design of theaters from The Palace to The Los Angeles Theater, The Ace Hotel and The Globe.  Festivites included a brains to brawns chess and boxing match, a wide variety of interactive street art, comedy from Reggie Watts, my personal highlight, Rebel Bingo, and last but most definitely not least live music and entertainment and even some of the local talent, like Skrillex from both the OWSLA and Mad Decent imprints, plus hourly performances from city’s very own electric and eclectic avant garde performance troupe Lucent Dossier Experience (which was a serendipitous treat in itself considering a friend of mine had landed himself DJ duties at the same stage for the night).

Don’t fret if you missed out on all the fun, because one of my favorite things about the city of angels is there’s simply always something stunning to do about town, and half of them are free! But, if you’re feeling the festive FOMO, make a calendar reminder and don’t forget to catch Night on Broadway next year in Downtown Los Angeles when it returns on Saturday, January 28th 2017.  For more about the city’s famed ‘Night on Broadway’ event or Bringing Back Broadway initiative, head to their website or socials –

Night on Broadway: Website

Bringing Back Broadway: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

IMG_0680

IMG_7881

IMG_7780

IMG_7761

[Oh, Snap] A Rainy Day Stroll Through Pasadena’s Storrier-Stearns Japanese Garden

img_7832

On some rainy days, the words I’ve failed to say fall from the sky while nostalgia soaks into the damp city streets. Yet in absolute dichotomy, on others I wake up in a whimsical whirlwind, wrapped in wanderlust and yearning for an adventure.  With a fantastic evening roaming through downtown Los Angeles for their second annual Night on Broadway (more on that later!) under our belts, Sunday Funday was most definitely on the menu and I was hungry for an escapade in nature.

When the Storrier Stearns Garden announced they’d be adding more days for the public, I just couldn’t help myself a bought us some tickets to check it out and yesterday was finally the day.  I went to bed over the moon excited, because truth be told I’d been trying for years, but only being open once a month had severely limited my opportunities. A few years ago, Danny and I adventured to the Arlington Gardens across the street and wistfully wondered what was kept hidden so secret behind the chain link fence and yesterday, we finally had our chance to find out so that morning, when I woke up with blustery weather and grey skies, I vowed to not let it stop the fun.

img_7850

Created back in 1935 by the esteemed Kinzuchi Fujii, the historic Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden is a beautiful hidden gem tucked away in the heart of Pasadena.  Built on the estate of Charles and Ellamae Storrier Stearns, the gardens span two acres and includes several ponds connected by crooked bridges with coy fish peacefully swimming to and fro, a formal teahouse, and numerous places to sit back, relax and enjoy the venue.

img_7848-1

After a blustery beginning and some torrential downfall, the sun broke through turbulent layers of high velocity clouds and gave way to a stunning afternoon that was spent in relative solitude. Slowly and gleefully, we roamed around the unique grounds in zenlike observation.

img_7831-1

While talking with one of the curators of the grounds, we learned the reasoning behind crooked bridges in Japanese culture.  As legend has it, evil spirits can only go in straight lines – so if you’re ever being chased by a spirit, head to one of the fabled zig-zag bridges bridge and they’ll  be propelled into the water.

img_7836

img_7813

Revered for being the last remaining minor Japanese Garden created for residential purposes in Southern California before World War II, the Storrier Stearns garden is also the last remaining garden crafted by Fujii, who was responsible for a handful of Japanese landscapes across Southern California in the early 20th century.  After Ellamae Storrier Stearns passed on in 1949, the entire estate was sold at auction to art and antiquities dealer Gamelia Hadadd Poulsen.  Over the next decade, Poulsen sold off most of the estate less the Japanese Garden and by 1975, CalTrans had bought up property surrounding the gardens in hopes of building an extension of the 710 freeway directly through the garden.  After visiting yesterday, I’m so grateful they didn’t!

img_7833

The gardens underwent a stunning restoration first in the 80’s when the garden was passed on within the Haddad family and then again under the hands of Dr.Takeo Uesugi from 2007 to 2013, transforming it into the tranquil piece of paradise that it is today. For the last several years, the garden was only available on a once a month basis – which typically had sold out far ahead of time; trust me on this; I’ve had firsthand experience with not getting tickets.  But, just this year the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden has expanded it’s availability with openings every Thursday from 10 to 4pm, as well as the last Sunday of the month like old times. Tickets are available on PayPal through their website for $7.50 a piece, and can be purchased for $10 at the door if you’re feeling lucky.

img_7819

img_7844

For more on the gardens, take a peak on social media –

Website | Facebook |  LinkedIn

 

Location270 Arlington Drive
Pasadena, California 91105

[Oh, Snap] Chasing Sunset at Malibu’s Point Dume

Last Sunday, we bid adieu to the succulent last seconds of Autumn in one of the most blissful fashions. As I’m sure you’re well aware, Los Angeles either has the absence of seasons or a mass inundation of each throughout a single 24 hour stretch.  With strong Winter storms coming in from the North West on Saturday night, we almost changed our Sunday plans – discussing the merits of cloud coverage in romantic photography and the like, but we decided to throw caution to the literal wind and get our booties out to Malibu to enjoy the last weekend of the season with some of our favorite people, creating magic and celebrating true love.

Love.  It’s a simple four letter word with a complex, vast and almost unfathomable meaning.  Love takes you by the arm securely and leads you to safety, while encouraging you to blast out of your own comfort zone and reach for the stars.  Love isn’t only giving, it’s forgiving; the last piece of the puzzle of a beautiful picture, a picture that was once so inconceivably incomplete.  Love fills your life in time with your heart, warming each and every nook and corner; clearing out the cobwebs of the ego, unchaining your pride and letting your soul shine free.  Love is natural, like the sun, wind, water and Earth; yet love is extraordinary, like the existence of the universe, like the rose that grew from concrete, like the existence of you, or I – or the simple fact that between you and I, there’s a we that is coveted more than the deepest secrets and oldest friendships.  Love is a bridge from nowhere to everywhere, a door that opens infinitely and a dream that’s never deferred.  But the most beautiful thing of all is that love is.

Though photography is a passion of mine, it certainly isn’t a profession – I’ve left that to the fiance.  He’s been building a bustling portfolio in the three years we’ve been together and I’m so thrilled that I’ve had a first hand view at how he’s grown as a creative, as an artist, as a working professional.  Though he’s done his fair share of concerts, shows, festivals, plays and musicals – he’s itching to get his feet wet in other arenas, including headshots, portfolios, high fashion and engagement shoots – and I’m thrilled, because this means I get to learn, too!  So after a quick breakfast and conversation, we were off to the beaches to capture the effortlessness of true love in a fantastic couple.  Now, I don’t have any spoilers – because, well, they’re not my pictures.  But I did get to spend a good amount of time chasing one last Fall Sunset at Malibu’s Point Dume, and let me tell you – so worth it. And a perfect full circle from last year, where we spent the first day of Winter in Big Bear.

Locals might think of it as a total tourist trap with not a lot of parking, but I think the scenery is stunning, the views up and down the Pacific Coast are  breathtaking and there’s a whole host of marine life for you to take in. – from cranes to seals, and even a dolphin (or shark!) if you’re there on a good one.   There’s plenty of rocks for rock climbing, and tons of ocean to relax the mind and body.





For more on Point Dume, check out their State Park website and social media channels.

Website | Facebook | Yelp

[Oh, Snap] Illuminating the Night with the LA Zoo Lights

When it comes to holiday lights, I’ll be the first to admit that my perception is a bit jaded by my frequent festival .  Whether it was my first experience at Electric Daisy Carnival way back in 2006 when it was still a one day event in San Bernadino, or my last in 2011 when Tiesto tore the sky open and caused the stars to rain down for what felt like an eternity – the dance music circuit and music festivals have almost spoiled the fun of holiday lights, but get one thing straight – I’m not complaining.  I’ve lived in Los Angeles since 2008 and finally – after almost eight years, i got the light show that I’ve been waiting for.

Hosted in conjunction with the Paramount Studios, Cirque du Soleil and Stella Artois, the LA Zoo Lights breathes electric nightlife into the stunning landscape of the LA Zoo and Botanical Gardens. With the real animals in sweet, deep slumber – the true wildlife comes out to play including an electric forest, musical flamingos, technicolor elephants, upcycled singing frogs crafted out of old water bottles, a stunning water-laser show, and so much more.

Upon entrance, you’re greeted by an array of wily monkeys, earnestly plugging in the zoo to set the festivities in full swing while the eccentric melodies of Cirque du Soleil’s latest traveling show KURIOS radiate through the loud speakers. Roaming through the park, Holiday tunes from KCRW ebb and flow out of the Disco Forest while light dances through the trees.  Though most of the live animals are asleep, the Lair is still open and sure to creep you out with all of their crawlies; let me just put it this way: thank goodness they’re behind glass! Or hey, if you like that kind of stuff…good for you, or something.

My theory is that you go in the very first group and slowly make your way around, enjoying each and every exhibit. One protip that I will forever live by: since you enter the Zoo by admission time, pick an early time, and show up about 20 minutes after the gates are open – you’ll be able to walk right in and the park won’t be as crowded.  And since your tour of the LA Zoo Lights is self guided, enjoy yourself a merry little Christmas and take your time to smell the illuminated roses.  We ended up staying for two and a half hours and could have easily stayed longer but vow to come back before the end of the year! The park is open through January 3rd, week days and weekends – so be sure to check the website for availability.

 

For more on the LA Zoo and the LA Zoo Lights, head to their website and socials – LA Zoo LightsWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

  

[Oh, Snap] Sunday Funday at Thousand Steps Beach

The tides are in our veins.

Photo by Daniel Leist

Calming and cathartic, the ocean beckons with a quiet roar masked as a whisper – cascading from shore to shore in enigmatic harmony. Growing up in the Bay Area, only a hop, skip and a jump from local beaches like San Gregorio, Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz and Capitola, and spending a good amount of my childhood on the Oregon coast – I have a plethora of fond memories building sand castles and feeding s

ea gulls while unearthing sea glass and haphazardly discovering beautiful raw stones.  And even though I spent my collegiate years right on the beach in Santa Barbara, I could’ve spent a lot more time actually at the beach. So whenever I get the chance to finally hit one up, the five year old trapped in this 6’0 body gets butterflies in her stomach and stars of excitement in her eyes.

Photo by Daniel Leist

Life, as they say, is what happens while you’re making other plans and the other weekend was no different.  After a haphazard morning leaving Los Angeles, timing had proven tumultuous and schedules had shifted. Thankfully, it was a beautiful day and there’s nothing quite like hitting the road with some good jams and great friends. Soaking in the wonderful weather over Valentine’s Day weekend, a great few days filled with lots of love and great company, my wanderlust waved me over to Laguna Beach’s Thousand Steps Beach. Located just off of the Pacific Coast Highway, tucked away between two bluffs – Thousand Steps Beach is a gem among beaches with loads of soft sand, caves to explore and loads of blissfully breaking waves for hydrophilic humans.  Though it’s not technically a thousand steps to get down to the beach, there are definitely enough to warrant a lazy afternoon soaking up some rays.

Photo by Daniel Leist

We couldn’t leave before Sunset on the beach and as we thought, it was absolutely stunning. Sprinting out to the water to snap a picture, my body tangled in itself and the necklace I was wearing broke and my pendant, a beautiful little piece of Amethyst that I got at the Gem Fair in Tucson,  tumbled through my sweatshirt and plunged into the current.  I watched three or four waves swoop, swish and rearrange the stone and instinctively thrust my hand into the water. Miraculously, I saved it – and it hasn’t left my neck since.  This was almost two weeks ago and I’m still finding grains of sand on it!Last, but certainly not least – as the sun went down, the creativity heated up and we tried our hands on some light painting.  Danny took hold of the wand, our friend All Day Jimmy was behind the camera – and the result: magic!

What’s your favorite beach to soak up the sunshine? Let me know in the comments below!

[Oh, Snap] A Holiday Stroll Through The Descanso Gardens

As I’ve grown up over the years, the holidays have become less and less about the physical, tangible presents exchanged among family and friends, and in turn – more and more about the actual holiday presence of the same individuals.  I mean, sure – who doesn’t love a gift every now and again; especially if it’s heartfelt and / or handmade.  My parents are pros at both of those, but to this day I honestly still prefer long strolls and chatting them up to anything that money could actually buy. The other week, I was struck with an awkward work situation – I was going to be the big boss for a few days while my boss was out, but for the Friday and Monday after the holidays.  My original feelings were a hodgepodge of frustration, anger and sadness that I wouldn’t be able to spend the days with my parents, but instead of getting into a bind about it – we did a quick about face; for the first time since moving down to LA, they were finally going to visit me for the holidays and enjoy a crisp, clear Christmas in the City of Angels.

The crazy thing about living in East Los Angeles is that I’ve gone from being surrounded by city streets, skyrises and bustling public transportation into an area that’s a much slower pace of life, and where nature is seemingly more abundant, though in truth – maybe I’m finding it more frequently, because I’m looking for it more.  Over the last year, Danny and I’ve explored a plethora of parks and finally – we’re running out of Botanical Gardens to introduce ourselves to in the area; it’s a beautiful thing! After the local options are exhausted, we’re going to spend our weekends traveling – in search of the serenity that only nature can provide.  After tackling Griffith Park, The Huntington and The Arboretum – it was time to conquer the Descanso Gardens and I was stoked to bring my parents along for the ride.  Being a holiday, there were barely any people in the park which was nice – and for the record, the Descanso Gardens are only closed a few days of the year, Christmas Day being one of them.

After spending the early afternoon galavanting around and grabbing some quick and hunger quenching pizza at Blaze in Pasadena, we were off to Descanso – located right about where the 2 and the 210 meet in La Canada / Flintridge. Unlike the other gardens we’ve visited which were much more in the heart of the city and centrally located, Descanso is a little further out of range of the city and has the stunning landscape to prove it.  We started in the Japanese Garden and wound around to the Live Oaks Forest, the Camelias, a California Native Plant Garden and last but certainly not least, the wonderful Rose Garden.  But, that’s not to say we always stayed on the beaten path – we definitely jumped off a few times, hiked through the hills and stole a stunning view of the city.  Though there wasn’t as much color or variety as the other gardens we’ve been to (which, truthfully, could just be due to the time of year) – I really enjoyed strolling through and enjoying the forested areas.  The Descanso Gardens are perfect for a mid-week walk, artistic inspiration or a little reading on a beautiful day.

Facebook | Website | Instagram

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/117/39265557/files/2014/12/img_5320.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/117/39265557/files/2014/12/img_5319.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/117/39265557/files/2014/12/img_5324.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/117/39265557/files/2014/12/img_5323.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/117/39265557/files/2014/12/img_5327.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/117/39265557/files/2014/12/img_5328.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/117/39265557/files/2014/12/img_5341.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/117/39265557/files/2014/12/img_5333.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/117/39265557/files/2014/12/img_5345.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/117/39265557/files/2014/12/img_5344.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/117/39265557/files/2014/12/img_5355.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/117/39265557/files/2014/12/img_5362.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/117/39265557/files/2014/12/img_5356.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/117/39265557/files/2014/12/img_5366.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/117/39265557/files/2014/12/img_5377.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/117/39265557/files/2014/12/img_5368.jpg

[Roadtrippin’] It’s a California State of Mind

For the past few weeks I’ve had little angel on my shoulder,  coercing me to get the fuck out of my overheated Los Angeles bubble and venture up north for an extended weekend of good food, great meals and family time.  But, whenever I was close to jumping in my car and cruising back home, the devil on the other side would start with the litany of excuses: I hate driving on the 5 That’s too long to leave my cats alone for gas prices are cray cray – etc, etc.  The fact of the matter is those are all very valid reasons for not wanting to hit the road – but at the end of the

day, they all start to sound like the same excuse, ‘I don’t want to.‘  It’s been a long past few months and there was a lot of apprehension about being isolated, and in the middle of nowhere, for an extended amount of time – but I’ve also come to terms with the fact that I over-saturate my life with connections.  My phone may as well be tethered to my side as a Siamese twin because I swear I’m always on it – Tweeting, texting, Instagram-ing and Facebooking; may as well just call me a walking, talking social media slut – I’ll take it.

I also, finally, took some my own advice: get out of my head and into my heart.

Being a creature of logic and reason is fine and dandy; but, emotions can’t be quantified, feelings can’t be measured and you can’t organize anxieties.

With this freshly pressed game plan in mind, I turned to packing up my troubles, both literally and physically. Piling clothes, jewelry, hair products and my work laptop in an over-sized duffel bag, I synced my iPod and kissed my cats goodbye.  The drive can last anywhere from  6 and 9 hours, so I had a lot of music to load in to get me through it.  For the first time, I wasn’t planning outfits or huge escapades – I was going to be comfortable and at home with the people I love. Yes, the 5 is awful  and gas prices aren’t going down – but the idea that the people I love are only a tank of gas away is so comforting.

When I hit the road, I double checked my route and turned my phone off for a while; I was on auto-pilot, my car was on cruise control and it was just the two of us and the highway.  I’ve had my new car since April and the furthest we’ve gone together is Ojai – this was our first big adventure and I had way too much fun.  There’s a feeling that I get from being in the open road, windows down and music up; my mind opens up, my stream of consciousness is deep and introspective and I almost get this runners high.  Maybe it’s a drivers high.  Either way, that drive cleared out my mental cobwebs and reset my system. Around 10 pm  I cruised into the city and it was bustling with lights and noise, roaring with personality as it always does.

San Francisco at Night

5 Roadtrip Essentials:

  1. Map I know I’m captain obvious but you should probably know where you’re going – just in case your phone dies, your partner in crime slash navigator passes out or you’re just horrible with directions.
  2. Music Make sure your playlist is twice as long as your total drive – if you’re like me, you probably have musical ADD and change a song halfway through…which means your playlist doesn’t last as long as you think it does.  Plan ahead and your head will thank you later; besides, how many times can you really listen to Levels*?
  3. Good Vibes If you’re no fun, your drive isn’t going to be fun! Besides, if you can’t have fun by yourself rocking out with an air guitar and singing lead vocals at the tippity top of your lungs – why would anyone else want to?
  4. Comfort Grub There’s nothing worse than hitting the road, getting super hungry and not being able to find a damn thing you want to eat or drink – well, save yourself the problem and do a little store run before you head out or save some money and make sandwiches at home.  Make sure you have something delish to wash it all down, and a few extra bottles of water – and you’ll have a happy heart, and stomach, the entire drive.
  5. Car Charger Phone navigation applications, especially Verizon’s – and I speak from experience, do a pretty good job of draining your phones battery.  Being lost in the middle of nowhere with no phone is kind of horrible, so do yourself  a favor and make sure you have a working phone charger.