…to Downtown LA We Go.

Downtown Header

{Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho…to downtown LA we go!
And this time, my camera was charged and ready.}


What: LA Conservancy Walking Tour
Where: Broadway Theatre District
Location: Historic Broadway, Downtown LA
Cost: $10.00


It feels as though a modern-day renaissance, a rebirth, is taking place in our own backyard. The interesting thing is how. As much as there is an effort to revitalize Downtown Los Angeles, there’s an equal push to hold onto its history. The duality here is that while constructing some of the most revered contemporary architectural structures, hosting the trendiest restaurants in town (my favorite restaurant happens to be downtown), and rejuvenating the streets; if you were to walk for several blocks in a particular direction, say, toward Broadway, and open your eyes passed what appears to be a random storefront or abandoned building…you’ll see it.

It’s Hollywood’s origins, as early as 104 years ago.

After a memorable Saturday night last month at the Los Angeles Conservancy’s special screening of Back of the Future (minus what has to be my least favorite restaurant that also happens to be downtown), I channeled firsthand what it would’ve been like to go to the movies 80 years ago at one of the most lavish movie palaces ever created.

Movie palaces weren’t just about seeing the film, it was a night out on the town, ball gowns and top hats required. Though I was dressed more circa 2014 California chic in a bright sundress and a pair of sandals – one could still feel the old Hollywood decadence as you walked around the United Artists Theatre that night. The Spanish Gothic design, frescoes painted high on the walls and ceiling, the ultra glam vanity room to touch-up your lipstick after a trip to the restroom, and the massive 1,600 seat theater was a lot to take in. Needless to say, it was a gem.

And in fact, these gems are sprinkled throughout Downtown LA. There are 12 of them in total, built between 1910-1931 and all located on the same street over a 7-block radius on the now, historic Broadway. From movie palaces screening the latest films to vaudeville acts performing on large stages; Art Deco to French Baroque-style architecture, each theater was distinct in its design and purpose, though all were originally constructed with the same goal, and that was to entertain at the highest of standards.

I was eager to learn more. Thanks the heavens for the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Walking Tours through Downtown LA.

Tour Start FINAL

{Saturday, 10:00am. View of the skyline from Pershing Square as we gathered to start the tour.}

Two hours on a bright, warm, summer Saturday morning a few weeks ago, found me walking along what is known as the “Broadway Theatre and Commercial District.” Escorted by a tour guide from the LA Conservancy, I was taken back to a history I had never really known much about and their efforts to save it.

The tour guides you to 11 out of the 12 theaters (the Million Dollar Theater is a few blocks away from the main cluster), stopping frequently to hear about its structural design and contribution (or failure) during Broadway’s entertainment heyday.

MAP FINAL

{Map of the Broadway Theatre and Commercial District. Click to enlarge.}

Little did I know that what looked like a less than glamorous storefront, was once an auditorium that hosted extravagant film screenings or performances. And while some of the buildings aren’t necessarily in the best shape or much to look at if you’re just passing by, the tour does a fantastic job of making you look past the facade to see a little deeper. The details are still there, though perhaps a little (or more than a little) weathered. In some instances, while the theater space now acts as a retail shop, the interior is preserved. In others, it is no more. Typically what remains is the structure.

Roxie ATG FINAL

{The Roxie. Built, 1931. Now a retail store. Though pretty weathered, it retains its Art Deco style.}

Tower FINAL

{The Tower. Built, 1927. Renaissance design.}

GLOBE FINAL

{The Globe. Built,1913.}

DSC01183

{The Palace. Built, 1911. French Baroque.}

The State Final

{The State. Built, 1921. Currently a church and the only place with air conditioning during the long hot tour!}

The good news is that a few of the theaters are in relatively excellent shape, so much so that you can feel the energy of the early 20th century the moment you walk in. I got the sense that is just depends on what day you take the tour (and the fact that many of these buildings are now retail venues or closed altogether), but we were only allowed inside of one of the theaters (other than The State).

If there was one interior venue I wanted to see with my very own eyes, it would be the luxurious Los Angeles Theatre. It. did. not. disappoint. Built in 1931, this lavish venue cost $1.5 million dollars to construct. The lobby boasts crystal chandeliers, a sweeping staircase, a fountain, custom-made carpets and drapery. It has individual stalls in the women’s restroom made from unique marble materials (no stall looks alike!), a vanity area, children’s playroom, men’s shoe shine area, downstairs lounge, dance floor, and a crying room (a place where mothers could take their crying babies so as to not disturb the audience and still watch the movie!). It also seats 2,000 people!

Yes, seeing a film or attending an event at the Los Angeles Theatre was certainly living it up back in the day! Even better, though privately owned, it’s a working venue and still in-use/for rent today.

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  {Exterior, Los Angeles Theatre. Built, 1931.}

LA Lobby FINAL

 { Los Angeles Theatre. Ticket booth.}

LA Chandelier FINAL

{Los Angeles Theatre lobby. 50 foot ceiling, crystal chandeliers.}

Interior LA FINAL

{Los Angeles Theatre stage.}

Shoes final

{Sidewalk in front of the Los Angeles Theatre. It’s marble!}

PS: I encourage you to visit the Los Angeles Theatre’s website to see their gallery photos of the interior space. Mine certainly don’t do it much justice!

UA 2 ATG FINAL

{The equally decadent United Artists Theatre at Ace Hotel. You can read more about this venue from another post I recently wrote, here.}

EASTERN FINAL

{Though not focal to the tour, we had to stop and chat about the famous Eastern Building which is also located on Broadway, just across the street from the Orpheum Theatre. It’s considered to be on the finest examples of Art Deco style architecture in existence. Apparently, a loft here can set you back well into the millions!}

DOWNTOWN LA ATG FINAL

Approximately 2 hours and 90°+ later, I walked away from the tour with an appreciation that I didn’t necessarily have before. My eye is typically always drawn to what’s pristine, modern, and aesthetically pleasing (perhaps that’s why the Walt Disney Concert Hall was such a thrill for me to tour last year!). However, this was a classic case of not judging a book by its cover. While the Los Angeles and United Artists Theatres don’t necessarily draw you in by the exterior, you’d never know such opulence would be behind those doors. Essentially, this experience taught me to applaud the duality that’s taking place downtown. Modern structures speak to forward movement, but there’s something special when it comes to surrendering to history and wanting to keep it alive.

I’m glad that organizations like the LA Conservancy make it a goal to preserve what was.  Though I enjoy the plush large seats at the Arclight as much as the next Angeleno; I doubt I’ll ever wear a ball gown, drop my faux children (as I don’t have any!) in the theater playroom, watch a film, sit in a marble bathroom stall, walk a grand staircase while enjoying the sounds of the neighboring fountain, just after making my way to the lounge, where I’ll sip a cocktail and dance the night away…all at the same place.

If you’re ever looking for an inexpensive, educational, and explorative thing to do on a beautiful Saturday morning in LA, this is for you!


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Highlights

ATG FINAL

{Laguna Beach, dusk.}

There’s nothing like a summer night. I was at a wedding last weekend where I stepped outside for a few minutes and saw this incredible view! We were about 2 blocks from the beach. What a sight to see the sun setting over the water. What is it about staring at the ocean and inhaling the gentle breeze that just makes the mind start to wander?

And wander it did.

Truth be told, I’ve been restless lately. I’m taking it as a sign that it’s time for some changes. I suppose it’s life’s way of nudging us forward…or in an entirely new direction altogether. I can pinpoint exactly where this restlessness is coming from. It’s just a matter of making a decision on what to do about it and acting on it. It’s when you don’t, that it seems to seep into just about everything else in your life – or at least that’s my experience with it.

Despite this feeling that’s been following me around lately, it’s been a good week overall. I’m gearing up to co-produce a pretty intense, yet deliciously interesting documentary project, which means the summer is about to get busier!

I also went to my first yoga class in ages this week and boy, have I missed my practice. Even when I’m laying in shavasana thinking about how I can’t wait to get home and eat that aforementioned chicken lasagna (which you’re NOT supposed to be doing if you’re performing the pose right), it still felt so invigorating to be back in a yoga studio, breathing deeply, and doing something completely good for myself. This is what yoga is for me: a space in which I know, without fail, that I am consciously taking the time to take care of and connect with myself. Perhaps as I continue with my practice and think through my restlessness, answers will find their way to me much more gracefully and naturally, than me trying to fight my way toward them.

I’ve been wondering as I write this how others deal when life becomes a little too restless. This seems to be part of a larger cycle in life. And not in a sense where it’s just a day or two here and there, but when you have a feeling that somehow the days just melt into one another. Does a drastic change help? Do smaller alterations make the difference? Is it as simple as adjusting my routine? A new hairstyle? Expanding my circle?

The good news is that in spite of all this, I know that there’s much to be grateful for and always look for that when that wandering mind takes over.

It’ll be another low-key weekend here. And perhaps this is part of the problem now that I think about it. I enjoy quiet weekends as much as anyone. Oftentimes, you need that slower pace to re-charge. But I think my spirit is telling me that that road trip I’ve always wanted to take to the Grand Canyon needs to happen sooner than later. Perhaps my spirit just needs a little more adventure, to stop with all the planning, and get to the business of doing.

Have a nice weekend! I hope it finds you far from restless and taking in these amazing summer nights!

What I’m Lovin’ Right Now

Happy Wednesday! I hope the summer is treating you well so far. Interrupting your hump day to share a few random things I’m just lovin’ right now…

…I think you will, too.

1-WILRN ATG FINAL

1. // Taking matters into your own hands: Salad Dressing 101.

2. // International advice: on how to live the sweet life.

3. // Keeping nature close by: bright flowers arrangements in assorted mason jars, windowsill optional.

4. // Shoe candy: Charles by Charles David “Verge” Sandals.

5. // Music to my ears: Latch by Disclosure featuring Sam Smith.

6. // The bad hair day cure: Billabong’s Firebird Trucker Hat.

7. // Summer chic without trying too hard: ASOS Sleeveless Skater Dress.

8. // A.M. grub that actually holds you over to P.M. lunch: Peanut Butter Berry Oatmeal.

9. // Summer mani/pedi inspiration: Best Summer Sheers.


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5 Reasons This Week Will Rock!

5 Reasons ATG FINAL


It was one of those weekends that just didn’t feel long enough. All I seem to recall was a wedding on Saturday night, seeing another gal rock pretty much the exact same dress as me at said wedding (but to help with the sting some, it did look slightly better on me. ;) ); 2 lemon drops, a trip to Target, a stop at Trader Joe’s and somehow it’s already Monday. I’m not too stoked about this, but understand that one cannot just wish their life away incessantly waiting for the weekend to arrive once again. This new week brings a few fun things to look forward to.

Here are 5 reasons this week will rock:

#1. Two words: Restorative. Yoga. (I’m so excited about my first restorative yoga class in ages! Yes, this is about the easiest form of yoga you can do – you basically pay to take a nap for an hour and a half…and I’m okay with this.)

#2. Joy the Baker’s Fresh Blueberry and Mint Lemonade (hello!) coming to a taste bud near me! This looks so refreshing, I can’t stand it nor wait to whip up a batch. The only hurdle is that I neglected to get the blueberries when I was at the grocery store yesterday. No worries. I’m all over it and will report back.

#3. I’m REALLY trying to get into Orange is the New Black. I was semi-interested after the first episode, totally bored by the second, though much less bored by the third. I’m aiming to give it some time to see what all the fuss is about. It’s one of the most buzzed about shows on TV currently, however, I’m just not seeing why as of yet. I’m giving it 3 more episodes/nights on the couch to suck me in, otherwise I’m moving on.

#4. Trader Joe’s Chicken Lasagna. Picture this: a $4.99 lasagna that’s pre-made in the refrigerated section that merely requires a gal to pop it in the oven for 45 minutes (I like it almost burnt), have a gourmet meal, AND get at least 3 nights worth of grub out of it? This gem, my current obsession, will be my dining companion over Orange is the New Black.

#5. Starting my next book club read: MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche.

These are 5 reasons this week will rock! I hope yours does too!

See you Wednesday!

Highlights

Life Lately ATG FINAL


You know how the moment you mentally pat yourself on the back about something, the universe has a way of having the last laugh?

I was just telling someone not too long ago that it’s been awhile since I’ve had a “brush with the law.” Let me preface this by saying that we’re not talking arrests here, boys and girls. I’m referring to traffic-related incidents of the speeding/parking ticket variety only. I’ve made it a point to be on-top of being an upstanding citizen. I don’t have a record (and plan to keep it that way), but this phrase just sounds so much more deliciously dramatic!

Anywho…

So there I was watching someone get a ticket for what appeared to be a moving violation of some sort and turning and saying, “You know what? I can’t even remember the last ticket I got? It’s been forever, years!” I mentally smiled to myself and moved on about my day.

It’s a near daily thing to see someone get pulled over in LA. Likely for texting while driving, perhaps speeding; but it’s ALL too common to see parking tickets being handed out like free perfume samples in a department store. I mean, if you have ever experienced parking a car in Los Angeles – you have to (HAVE TO) develop a fine-tuned skill set at reading parking signs. And I thought I had mastered that…until last Wednesday night.

After an engaging book club discussion at one of my favorite cafes – I thought I would treat myself to a piece of cake to take home from their bakery. This required standing in line again. I didn’t care. I just pictured myself freshly showered, curled up in bed with a huge slice of cake on my lap, and my Kindle in my hand losing myself in my most recent book once I got home to end a good day.

I know exactly where things went wrong. As I walked away from my car (on the exact same street I’ve parked several times before, no less!) I wasn’t thinking and mis-read the sign. The street becomes permit parking only after 9:00pm. I’m usually done with my book club a few minutes before then, but that night we got into the most fascinating discussion…then I went on a mission for that slice of cake.

As I walked back to my car with my $7.00 slice of blue velvet cake, I recall being happy after some much-needed female bonding time. However, the closer I got to my car, the more something didn’t feel right. And there it was. Bright, white, and glaring at me. A parking ticket.

And you know what? I didn’t get mad at all. In fact, I started laughing.

Naturally, the moment I declared how great I had been at avoiding those infamous parking tickets, a few weeks later, one arrives, breaking my 6 year record. (There really is something to the “Law of Attraction.”)

I looked at the time on the dash when I got into my car: 9:24pm. I looked at the time on the ticket: 9:04pm. I missed it by 20 minutes…because of a frosted covered carb craving.

So I did what any gal had to do. As I drove home, I started to rethink my budget to accommodate this unexpected expense.

Once I updated my records with the new game plan after arriving home, I moved on with my evening as planned. I showered, grabbed my now $75.00 slice of blue velvet cake, read for an hour or so, and went to bed.

The highlight of my week? The universe having the last laugh at me…and me laughing along. :)

Aside from this small tale, I’m happy to share that I’m crossing things off my summer bucket list! I found a great new yoga studio and look forward to my first class this weekend.

With that, the weekend will also find me hastily finalizing my look for a beach wedding I’m going to on Saturday evening….and, of course, taking care of that $68.00 parking ticket.

And p.s. – it’s not something I’d make a habit of…but that slice of cake gave me two night’s worth of dessert and was totally worth it!

Happy weekend to you! xx


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100 Happy Days: The End.

Day100ATGFINAL{Day 100: Sunshine.}

It’s the end of 100 consecutive days of happiness. Well, at least when it comes to the 100 Happy Days Challenge. I finished last week!

What a truly unique and enlightening experience.

As I mentioned when we checked in on the first 50 days, you really can find joy in your day no matter what type of day you’re having – if you only stop and pay attention. I think this is what taking on this practice re-iterates. I’ve had some tough times hit during those 100 days, yet I still made it a point to always find the silver-lining; be it in the sun beaming down on my face, enjoying an afternoon treat, starting a new book, or trying out a new nail polish. It’s about the small things.

One of the reasons that I started blogging was to celebrate and document my life, my world. It’s made me a better person for it. My eyes are always on the look-out for excitement, happiness, lessons learned, and new experiences (if only because it helps with writer’s block and gives me something to blog about!).

So as I wrap up this part of my journey, I hope to continue to grow into the type of person always looking for authentic joy.

Thanks for indulging me! Here are posts #51 through #100. Moments I look back on fondly.

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Mixtape Monday: Summer Playlist

summerplaylistATGFINALI hope you all had a fun-filled, food-filled, relaxing holiday weekend!

As it’s officially summer (and Monday), a new mixtape is clearly in order. I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about the ultimate summer playlist – songs old and new, upbeat and chill, that celebrate the season; that simply make you want to turn up the music as loud as your speakers (and ears) can handle, roll down your windows, and sing at the top of your lungs as you cruise down the 405 on a hot summer day.

You know the drill if you want to jam along with me: Log-in to Spotify, hit play and enjoy the sounds of summer with my most recent playlist.

It’s one that I’ll have on repeat all summer long.

Enjoy! xx





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