Monday, December 17, 2012

#249: Christmas at The Grove

Of all the malls in L.A., The Grove just might be the most Christmas-y. The "snow" that falls in the evening, the towering Christmas tree with more ornaments than visible greenery, pictures with Santa in his workshop, and a sleigh that soars high above the fountains are all sure to get you in the holiday spirit.

Santa's in here!

The Grove reminds me of Disneyland; everything looks perfect and there's not a speck of litter in sight.  And like Disneyland, it gets very crowded on the weekends. 

This time I came on a weekday morning and had a much more relaxing experience.  Have you ever been to Disneyland right when it opened? That's what it felt like! Except replace Mickey Mouse with Mario Lopez. Yes, Mr. Dimples was there filming an episode of Extra. I snapped this photo of him looking at free swag one of his guests gave him:

Speaking of t.v. shows, remember that episode of Modern Family where they take a doll into the "Doll Emergency Clinic" to get fixed and Alex sees one that looks just like her? I thought that was just something on t.v., but it turns out there is such a place at The Grove! It's American Girl, and in addition to a doll emergency room, they've also got a doll hair salon, a historic doll museum, a dining room where girls can eat with their dolls, and a doll photography studio. You can also buy clothes, accessories, musical instruments and even dogs for your custom designed doll. It's pretty crazy.

For the walking disinclined, The Grove has a free trolley. This was a hit with the youngsters.

And for your sweet tooth, there's a Sprinkles cupcakes stand:

And a Dylan's Candy Bar:

Have you been to The Grove during the holidays? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!

The Grove

Saturday, December 8, 2012

#248: Branded Arts Murals

Los Angeles has its share of amazing murals but Branded Arts in Culver City has done the incredible feat of covering virtually every square foot of its wall space with art. It's a sight that made me do a double take as I drove past it on Washington Blvd. Street parking is abundant and the murals are free to view. Be sure to go around the corner to see all the art. 

** Update: Thank you to reader JenGod for letting me know that the murals are being demolished in January to make way for an upscale retail area. I'm so sad :( Please check these murals out this month before they're destroyed! **

While you're in the neighborhood, also check out the Culver City Architecture Walk (#180)!

Have you been to the Branded Arts murals? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!

Branded Arts

Monday, November 12, 2012

#247: STAR Eco Station

Pet a boa constrictor, gaze into the third eye of a monitor lizard, and meet a baby crocodile at the wildest place in Culver City: the STAR Eco Station. The Eco Station rescues exotic wildlife and takes in endangered and illegally trafficked animals from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Center.  For just $8 you can take an hour long tour of the facilities. 

When we went on a Saturday afternoon, there were only six other people in our tour group. We started in the aquarium room, where our guide pointed out a giant black fish in one of the tanks. How did this fish find its way to the Eco Station? The poor guy grew so large that it busted through its owner's glass aquarium! The owner had no idea that this breed of fish would grow so strong or large. Sadly, "pets gone wrong" seems to be the story of many of the animals at the Eco Station.

so sad 

We noticed that a lot of the birds at the Eco Station didn't have feathers. Our guide told us that birds get very attached to their owners, and when their owners abandon them or give them away, they become distressed and start plucking out all their feathers. :(


The interior of the Eco Station is amazing--it reminds me of being in the Jungle Book! That's no coincidence; Hollywood set designers lent their talents to transform the Eco Station into a wild jungle paradise.

reptile enclosures

a baby crocodile

Our guide referred to this little guy as a crocodilian, which blew Brad's mind because he didn't know that "crocodilian" was even a word. He proceeded to say "crocodilian" about twenty times throughout the day.

A boa that we got to touch

we touched this guy too

Are you an animal lover?  Be sure to also check out The Gentle Barn (#195) and The Wildlife Learning Center (#190)!

Have you been to the STAR Eco Station? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!

STAR Eco Station

Monday, November 5, 2012

#246: The Wall Project

Did you know that the largest stretch of the Berlin Wall that exists outside of Berlin is right here in Los Angeles?  The Wall Project was erected at 5900 Wilshire Blvd right across the street from LACMA to honor the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It's comprised of ten wall segments which span almost 40 feet in length. Well known and emerging artists painted the front and back of the wall, which is free to view.

The back of the Wall

The Wall Project is brought to us by the Wende Museum, a museum dedicated to preserving cultural artifacts and personal histories of Cold War-era Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. 

Plaque on the front of the Wall

Plaque on the back of the Wall

The backdrop to the Wall Project is this looming building which conveniently blocked the sun:

Ah, shade.

On the weekend, food trucks were parked in front, making the lawn the perfect place for a picnic. We threw a blanket down and alternated between gazing at the Wall and making ourselves dizzy staring up at the skyscraper.

If you plan on visiting the Wall Project, be sure to also check out The Levitated Mass (#245) which is located at LACMA (#184). Yay for free art on Miracle Mile!

Have you been to The Wall Project? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!

Monday, October 29, 2012

#245: The Levitated Mass

Oh, my, god. Becky, look at that rock. It's so big. 

I like big rocks and I cannot lie. Some rich folks pay millions of dollars for a rock the size of a marble. I say, why not get the most bang for your buck?

LACMA got the most show for the dough by securing the Levitated Mass, a 10 million dollar, 340 ton granite boulder, which sits upon a 456-foot-long slot. The rock comes from a quarry in Riverside County and is free for the public to view during museum hours.

Brad asked me yesterday "Are you going to blog about The Stupid Rock?" He's not the only one who thinks the rock is ridiculous. The Levitated Mass has its share of critics who roll their eyes at the exorbitant price tag. Why should a rock cost so much?

Well much of the cost went toward moving the thing. The rock's journey took 11 days, during which it went through 4 counties and 22 cities. Trees were cut down, cars towed, power lines lifted and traffic lights turned just to make room for the monolith. The plastic wrapped rock drew large crowds during its trip, and reached its final resting place at 4:35 am to a crowd of over 1,000 people. Sort of reminds you of the space shuttle Endeavor's ride through L.A., right? 

I admit, I kind of like the rock. I'd like to think that when archaeologists uncover it thousands of years from now, it will be a source of confusion and heated debate. Was it our false idol? A paperweight for giants? A cairn that points the way to the 99 cent store? The speculations are endless.

All in all, I think it's worth your while to check out this thing... That way, you can decide for yourself if it's a Mass-terpiece or not (you like what I did there? wordplay!).  Thank you to Experiencing L.A. for inspiring me to check out The Mass! 

Oh, one more thing-- if you like the Levitated Mass, you might also enjoy the Noguchi Sculpture Garden (#183). They sort of have the same aesthetic, to my untrained eye.

Have you been to the Levitated Mass? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!

The Levitated Mass at LACMA

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

#244: The Echo Park Time Travel Mart

Whenever You Are, We're Already Then

If you could travel to either the past or the future, which would you choose? I have a weakness for australopithecines named Lucy, so I'd choose the past. Brad is a closet Trekkie and perks up at the mere mention of Armageddon, so I think he'd pick the future.

There's only one place in L.A. that can take you to both the past and the future in one trip: The Echo Park Time Travel Mart. The Time Travel Mart is a convenience store where robots and cavemen can shop side by side for everyday household wares like Mammoth Chunks in a can, Barbarian Repellent, Big Bang in a Jar, and Robot Emotion Chips. All proceeds benefit 826LA, a non-profit organization that supports students ages 6-18 with their writing skills by offering free tutoring and workshops. Dave Eggers and many other influential writers are on the Board of Directors!

The store is small but it's packed full of merchandise. Take the time to browse every square inch of this place--you'll have a laugh and feel good about yourself for supporting a great cause.

The Echo Park Time Travel Mart