Waterloo & City, Callahan’s: Don’t go on me

There is no shortage of places to dine out in the LA area, I am aware of that. But the older I get, the more I prefer to go somewhere I know I’ll be comfortable and love the food. Trying new places is risky. What if I get seated next to solo diner that eavesdrops on my conversation and makes way too much eye contact? What if the food his charred? What if the meal is beautiful and very creative but I’m still hungry after the check? Eating out is stressful.

There are a few restaurants that I can go to that I will enjoy no matter what. Waterloo & City in Culver City is one of those restaurants. I’ve been there with coworkers and with my wife for our anniversary and it’s always great. Great ambience, amazing food, it’s really all I need. But last night, I learned that Waterloo & City is closing down for a bit and moving to a smaller location. Waterloo & City is a good sized restaurant, but apparently after it closes in January, it will relocate to a “much” smaller place. The headline does say that the chicken liver mousse will be back, but I really enjoyed eating it in a private corner of the restaurant during the middle of the week.

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I’ve found that when you order charcuterie in a smaller restaurant, the people next to you can’t help but watch while you sample everything on your big wooden board. This was the case at Tar & Roses, anyway. I can’t sample under a spotlight. I need some room to plan my eating strategy. Start with a cheese? Make a little sandwich? Is this mustard? People don’t need to witness this. This is also why I need to order ramen to go. Am I supposed to use the spoon? Is slurping cool? I’ve watched ramenstructional YouTube videos but I’m still not there.

On the comfort side of things, I kinda like Callahan’s diner in Santa Monica. Since moving to LA 8 years ago, I haven’t found too many diners I like. Callahan’s is a pretty legit diner. It’s not spotless, the food is not amazing, the overall green color is interesting, but interesting in a way my Irish grandmothers may have painted their houses in the 50s, so it works for me. Well, for various reasons, Callahan’s is also closing at the end of this year. I walked by this morning and it looks like they’re removing the sign. Maybe new owners LGO Hospitality will put something great into the Callahan’s space, but it feels like the end of an era, even though I have not been around for most of that era.

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I should be eating at home more anyway. My wife is on a tear with Blue Apron, and I just realized that most Blue Apron members are making the same recipes on the same weeks. I had thought there were just a lot of coincidences in my Twitter feed (Oh you’re doing the meatloaf too?) So far the meals are about 70% good and 30% why did you put eggplant in this?

My current favorite restaurant is R+D Kitchen in Santa Monica, and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. I saw Elle Macpherson there. You don’t close a restaurant that Elle Macpherson likes. They have amazing deviled eggs. The best part about my current freelancing situation is that I have made R+D Kitchen my conference room, so when anything needs to be discussed in person with a client, we head there for lunch.

I’ve also been going to the new Dunkin’ Donuts in Santa Monica a lot. Too much, probably.

Superchunk covers Ryan Adams’ “Come Pick Me Up”

I first started listening to Ryan Adams when I was living in Medford, Massachusetts. During long walks to the Davis Square T stop and aimless strolls around the Charles River, I fell into the Ryan Adams wormhole pretty hard. “Come Pick Me Up” was especially interesting to me in that it took the loud/quiet/loud dynamics of 90s rock to a new place, with the loud being a camp fire-y sing-a-long complete with a banjo, and the quiet being almost inaudible. Also, usually when people drop the f-bomb in a song it’s in an aggressive way, while Ryan Adams gave a nice, casual delivery of the word “fuck.” I appreciated that.

Last night, while riding catching up on my Feedly, I learned via the Consequence of Sound that Chapel Hill 90s rock band Superchunk had put their own spin on Adams’ “Come Pick Me Up,” and it’s pretty cool. Now the song feels fresh again and I have an excuse to resume my aimless strolling.

Ryan Adams plays the Wiltern December 17th and 18th. See you there.

10 things I need to do before I leave Los Angeles

I love LA and I plan to be here a while longer. That said, sometimes I wonder if I should move closer to my Rhode Island homeland to be closer to family and further from traffic. I’m still not sure. We’ll see. If you don’t have a love/hate relationship with LA, you’re probably not leaving the house enough. Last Saturday was National Coming Out Day and with all the traffic it seemed like EVERYONE left the house. Misunderstood holidays are a thing. Happy Columbus Day.

bronson bat cave

If I were to leave LA, my to-do list currently consists of the following:

  1. Visit the Thriller house. There are still a lot of tourist attractions that I need to check off the to-do list I made when I was still living in Rhode Island. This past weekend I finally visited the Bat Cave. Apparently Don Draper/Dick Whitman’s childhood home is right near the Thriller house, so this trip will be a twofer.
  2. Get some dim sum at Din Tai Fung. I’ve heard it’s good. I really just like the word “dumplings.”
  3. Rent a house with a pool in Palm Springs. Probably not during Coachella.
  4. Take a flight up to Bellingham, WA while I’m still a cheap flight away. My wife lived up there for a short time and loved it. Maybe hit Alaska too? I’ll need to get in and out quickly before the S.A.D. kicks in, that’s the reason I made my Doc Hollidayesque move out here in the first place.
  5. Go on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour so I can get my photo taken behind Ellen’s desk. My mom loves Ellen.
  6. Finally visit Clifton’s Cafeteria when it opens. It’s going to reopen, right?
  7. See the Grand Canyon. This might be a “on the way out” stop.
  8. Visit the Getty Villa. Why not.
  9. Grab lunch at the Brentwood Country Mart. I’ve been there more than a handful of time, but I’ve never eaten at any of the walk up counters. Also, someone told me they once saw Eddie Van Halen there.
  10. Camp in Big Sur. I once bought a hacky sack at the general store there. Hm, maybe I shouldn’t leave California.

I’m going to keep adding to this list, but I feel like I’ve covered a lot of ground in my 8 years in Los Angeles. I’ve checked off a good portion of Caroline On Crack’s 100 Things To Try in LA Before You Die and my liver is proof of that. I’ll post a list of things I’ve done in LA that I’ve really enjoyed, but that will require some thinking.

No matter where I end up, I’m sure my first step into knee-deep snow will drive me right back here.

Desert Stars Festival 2014 – Sponsored by Lyynks

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This past weekend, my wife and her company went up to Yosemite for a team building trip, leaving me with a weekend to sit around messing up our apartment, or find something better to do with my time. I’ve been needing an escape into nature for a while now, but all searches for campsites told me they were either booked or sounded like anything but peaceful “It’s right next to a high school and you can hear the games all weekend.” “There were multiple boom boxes playing mariachi music all night.” Eh, I’ll just stay home and re-watch Twin Peaks so I’m prepared when that comeback finally happens. 

But then, the gods of weekend activities smiled down upon me and a new music app called Lyynks Music invited me out to the Yucca Valley to attend the Desert Stars Festival and get to know the Lyynks service. Upon noticing some of my favorite bands in the lineup, I immediately accepted the invitation and headed out to the desert for my first solo camping trip.

Desert Stars Festival Lyynks

When I arrived, I met Brandon from Lyynks who ran me through all the features of the app. For artists, Lyynks combines the ability to upload and sell (or give away) your music, manage email lists, post show announcements and sell merchandise all from one place. It’s been more than a few years since my playing in a band days, but I went ahead and uploaded my old music just to try it out. Lyynks is still in beta, so there are still some bugs being worked out, but uploading songs and artwork was quick and easy. It sounds like they’re targeting independent Los Angeles-area artists first, so if you’re an LA musician, it could be worth your while to get over there n0wish as the pool of bands is still pretty small and you’ll have a good chance of being noticed by people looking to discover new music. There are a few price tiers available for artists, though you can get in there and start using it to manage up to 500 email contacts for free. Other tiers allow you to increase the size of your email list, track your sales and play with advanced analytics. Hey, cool.

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For those looking to discover new music, Lyynks offers an app store experience similar to Apple’s in that you can sort music by new, hot, local or free. You can also check out upcoming performance dates, merchandise and videos. If you enjoy music, staying local, and seeing shows at venues smaller than the Greek, this could be the music discovery app for you.

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Back to the festival, this place was a scene. A good scene, but a scene nonetheless. There must have been some peyote going around because none of what was happening would make any sense without it. The Desert Stars Festival was held at Pappy & Harriet’s out in the old Hollywood western set of Pioneertown. Bands played inside and outside and no matter where you were standing, you were surrounded by so many 60’s haircuts I thought I’d need a TARDIS to find my way back to LA. But, the music was amazing. If you’re into the droney/poppy/fuzzy/psychedelic music of The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, this was the place to be. I’ve seen the Dandy Warhols probably around 20 times, in all sorts and sizes of venues, but seeing them out in the desert with flashing lights and their own live image projected back onto themselves while inhaling whatever happened to be wafting through the air at any given moment, was as good as it gets. I may skip my next haircut appointment and let my burns grow out. Why not.

richmond sluts

I got to know some bands that scratched that garage-rock and roll itch that never stops itching. Bands like Slow White, The Richmond Sluts, No Silver Bird, Magic Castles and Ringo Deathstarr put on such intense performances in the desert heat that there should have been a post-set hose-down for everyone on and off stage. Joel Gion of the Primary Colours and formerly (or sometimes still with) the Brian Jonestown Massacre was there checking out all the bands and I resisted the urge to ask him to take a selfie with me. (Though I did snap this photo of him leaning against the speakers watching The Richmond Sluts.)

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Later in the night, I started making friends with random attendees. I met up with Brandon from Lyynks and he introduced me to Lyynks’ founder Chris who talked rock and roll history with me. Chris’ wife was great and told me that I look like Colm Meaney from Star Trek (I’ve heard worse.) She even had me convinced for a few minutes that I should surprise my wife with a kitten. What? I don’t want to live with a cat. I’m glad whatever was in the air wore off on the ride home. I mean sure, if she wants a cat that badly we can totally get one. At one point Chris and I got into a conversation about the new Jimi Hendrix movie starring Andrew 3000 and when I voiced my disappointment that Mr. 3000 didn’t hold his fretting fingers in a believable way, a man in a 60s bowl cut entered the conversation saying that it didn’t matter how his hands looked because the movie was amazing and he should know because he’s a writer. Well, alright.

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Anyway, thanks again to Lyynks for having me out for the weekend, this was a much better way to spend the weekend than sweating on my couch and deciding what to order on GrubHub (does Hooters delivery make sense?) When you’re done reading this, I recommend you click on the A.C., head over to Lyynks.com and check out some music from local LA artists. They are killing themselves wearing leather and denim in the desert and you could make their lives a lot easier by just grabbing a few downloads.