Thursday, September 27, 2012

Can LA's 'Light & Space' Artists & Las Vegas Fix the Downtown LA Football Stadium & Convention Center Addition?

According to Dakota Smith of the Daily News, that is the consensus of a group of architects the Mayor convened to look into the plans now being debated by the City Council.

Architects call for redesign of L.A. Convention Center hall, part of AEG NFL project
Citing serious concerns, a group of high-profile architects advising Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on the downtown football stadium is recommending a redesign of the Los Angeles Convention Center hall that is part of the project.
Several members of the "Vision Team," a group of eight architects assembled by Villaraigosa to consult on the project, believe the plan has major flaws, including having visitors enter the new hall through a dark, unsafe space created by stretching the building over Pico Boulevard.
They believe this will so negatively impact Pico Boulevard and the Pico-Union neighborhood that an overhaul is required.   ((here is the rest of the story)

There is time to successfully address these problems.   Hopefully it can be done  by some rethinking of the footprint of the overall project.  But, if not, there are multiple ways adjustments which can be made to make the area more pedestrian friendly, some of which are addressed in the above article.

Additional uses might also be added to that stretch of Pico to attract  people to the area at times neither the stadium nor the Pico Hall are being used.  And by making those uses  places that would attract people entering and exiting the two big  venues, that could also make it more likely some people would arrive earlier and leave later, easing traffic congestion.

Another possible partial solution is to make the part of Pico covered by the new convention center into something resembling a very LA version of the Fremont Experience in Las Vegas.  One that would be far more subtle - and which would be one continuous non-stop experience - paced so that the slow - and very gradual - changes in the lights would be observable by pedestrians, but not noticeable by the drivers along  Pico so as not to distract them.

One or more of these shows might even be done by one of LA's  'light and space'' artists such as James Turrell. or Robert Irwin.  This could give the area a major new cultural attraction and considerably ... brighten... the experience of walking along Pico.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

THE LAST BOOKSTORE Has Thousands of Just Arrived Used Books at Only $1 Each!! Now Open From 9 AM to 9 PM on Sunday and from 10 AM until 11 PM Saturday, Monday and Friday. - and 10 AM until 10 PM all other days.

First the UPDATE for Sunday Oct. 14th :
THE LAST BOOKSTORE is now open on Sunday's from 9 AM to 9 PM so you can attend  the Farmer's Market that takes place right outside the front door of the store from 9 AM until 1 PM and you can visit the store after enjoying your daytime Sunday activities. And besides all the $1 books listed in the link below - we just had a great selection of books on English and American history & literature. Latin American & African history and literature, books on legal history, tons of bios on actors, writers, film stars & directors plus books on legitimate theater, classical music,science fiction, chess, gambling, doll houses. interior decoration, indoor gardening, the occult, pets of all kinds and many other subjects.  And it's open until 11  PM tonight and from 10 - 6 PM on Sunday.

Located at 453 S. Spring,  THE LAST BOOKSTORE has one of the best collections of used books in California.  And the newly opened mezzanine,  the LABYRINTH has 100,000 books - all of which are only $1.  Most of these are randomly sorted,but among the larger curated collections of $1 only books are over 850 psychology books, well over 1,000 books on history - with strong selections  for Latin America, Asia, the US, Ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece, Russia, Africa, France and England, hundreds of children's and young adult books and cook books all over the second floor.  Photo is part of the Psychology section.
There are also strong collections of poetry, sports, all things African-American, the military (at least 700), religion and theology (at least 500), music, theater, film andTV, college & high school text books in most of the sciences (chemistry, biology, psychics, geology, bio-chemistry, etc.) and many of the major disciplines, hundreds of popular contemporary Russian novels, philosophy, science-fiction, sociology, golf, wine, computer books of all types, all things Jewish (at least 400 books), law and medical books, education  and many other subjects. Below photo is part of Asia collection.
The next photo is of half of the section that deals with words - writing and how to write anything, literary criticism, MLA journals, linguistics, printing & publishing books, zines,  magazines or anything else, literary history and bios, editing, public speaking, etymology, dictionaries of every type; rhetoric & logic and anything else that can be done to - or with - a word - along with media & cultural studies.
There are also smaller collections on pets, gambling and card games, gardening, books with 100 year old covers & bindings, nature and natural history, art history, birds, gardening and many other subjects.  And all are for only one dollar each.
But most of the almost 100,000 books are randomly sorted so that you can find the book you never knew existed by an author or on a subject you never knew would interest you.  And if you can't find it upstairs, you will likely be able to find it on the first floor where most prices are from $4 to $20 dollars for books that sold for far more when they were new.  The first photo below is of the Latin America, Mexico & Canada $1 section.
Next is just a small portion of a huge Russian Pop fiction $1 collection
Next are $1 books with old spines from 50 - 150 years old.
Next is just over half of the $1 business section.
Here is part of the $1 England collection.
Close-up of small part of $1 Judaic collection.
Another close-up of another small part of the $1 Judaic collection..
Top Shelves part of  $1 Judaic and bottom shelves math, accounting & statistics $1 books.
Lastly - view of the first floor of the LAST BOOKSTORE where the regularly low priced books can be found.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Discover the Secret History Of Historic Downtown LA Next Weekend! Walking Tours Starting at THE LAST BOOKSTORE! Saturday & Sunday September 29th & 30th at 10:30 AM!

After taking six weeks off due to it being - too damn hot - the Walking Tours of Historic Downtown are resume the coming weekend - and the following weekends!  

The Last Bookstore Presents
(and it's just opened 2nd floor with 100,000 books at only ONE DOLLAR each!)

... The Secret Lives of Historic Downtown Los Angeles!

The HISTORIC DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES 101  2 hour walking tour will take place this coming Saturday September 29th and Sunday September 30th at 10:30 AM - and then the following Saturday and Sunday October 6th and October 7th also at 10:30 AM starting at THE LAST BOOKSTORE at 453 S. Spring Street.

And  besides our regular tours, we will be offering customized tours on different days and times - depending on your schedule.  With 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
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.  

If you are a participant in Saturday's '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 Emment 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 tours 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  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, September 11, 2012

9/11 Tribute Opens The Grand Park's Flag Garden

Excellent 9/11 ceremony at the opening of the Court of Flags - the second of the three phases of the Grand Park at the Los Angeles Civic Center.  The ceremony concentrated upon the living - while also taking full notice of those who did not survive that day. And it particularly - and tastefully - honored those men and women who were among us this morning.

Little was said this morning about any of the events of that morning eleven years ago - other than to ring of a bell four times to honor those who  lost their lives at each of the four sites - and to thank the bravery and sacrifice of those who risked their own lives to save others.

And at this moment in history, it was a perfect way to quietly and respectfully mark the anniversary of that tragedy.

Some day, future generations will  likely need to be told more about all that happened on that morning and its affect upon those who experienced it.  But, for now, our joining together to reflect on still fresh memories and thank those still with us and honor those who are not, turned out to be a perfect way to commemorate the day.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Delijani Family Reveals Plans to Activate Their Four Historic Theaters in Downtown Los Angeles

Here is the opening to the Downtown News Article on the immediate plans of the Delijani family for its four historic Broadway theaters situated in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles.

Family Looks to Upgrade Four Broadway Theaters

by Richard Guzmán, City Editor | Posted: Friday, September 7, 2012 9:03 am
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - For years, the status of four Broadway theaters owned by the Delijani family has been one of the biggest trouble points for the revitalization of Broadway. Although many have envisioned a revived Palace, State, Los Angeles and Tower theaters functioning as mini-epicenters of nightlife, the family has been slow to act, worried about the cost, loading issues and a perceived lack of parking.
Now, all that could change. If the new plan comes to fruition, the family could have a major role in really bringing back Broadway.
What most people do not realize is that the Delijani family simply by buying the Los Angeles Theatre at the personal request of Mayor Thomas Bradley - 25 years ago - at a greatly inflated price to save it from being demolished - have gone out of pocket tens of millions of dollars by not converting it to retail, a restaurant or a nightclub by taking out all its seats. 

And while I can not go into details, keeping the LA Theater also cost them far more than even that when one takes into account what they needed to do with other properties during major recessions in order to be able to keep the LA Theater safe from developers.

And yet, even then, even after all those losses, since the family knew it would take an entire theater district to make these venues work in the long term, they continued to buy and preserve other historic theaters (first the State Theatre, then the Palace Theatre and then the Tower Theatre) - and lose money on them - until the time has finally come when their overall vision of a true theater district can be realized.

Unfortunately, it will likely take a future generation - once all the theaters are open and operating - to be able to appreciate the wisdom of their long term vision vision - much less begin to understand or appreciate, the immense costs they voluntarily shouldered by deciding to forgo making a quick buck and keeping these four theaters completely intact for all these years.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Saturday, September 01, 2012

FYI Fest This Weekend Honors Downtown LA's Past, Present - And Future!

If you want to understand how the  Downtown Los Angeles Arts Communities have been able to take what was great about the 'Good Old Days' (when everything that mattered seemed to be 'underground' or 'edgy') while still expanding into more main stream programming - nothing better illustrates that than this weekend's FYF Fest.

Few other places can offer the musical variety that DTLA regularly has with weekly presentations at the Music Center and the Smell, Staples Center and the Mezz at the Alexandria, the Conga Room and the Last Bookstore and music series at the REDCAT and the line-up at the FYF Festival. 

And within the next 12 months - multiple new venues will be opening from The Regent Theater which will be run by Mitchell Frank at 5th & Main to a small comedy & music venue near 3rd & Los Angeles to several reopening theaters on Broadway to the new home of the Downtown Comedy Club - and many others  it is too early to talk about.