Part two in the Beyond Northeast Trilogy takes us to Old Town Pasadena for what is undoubtedly the nicest moviegoing experience of my life. I’ve never flown first class, but I imagine Gold Class Cinemas is the theater equivalent. The only danger in visiting is that no other theater I’ve been to can compare. Reserving our seats online ahead of time for Iron Man 2 (fine, but nothing special) we arrived at the theater a bit early to check out the lounge. For anyone looking for a first date idea, Gold Class Cinemas would be stellar. I’ve never been a fan of taking a girl to the movies early in a relationship because typically, you sit quietly watching a movie for a few hours and then feel compelled to come up with witty criticisms over dinner. The theater’s lounge is nice because it provides some very necessary elements to safeguard against the possible awkwardness of a first date: dim red lighting, comfortable seating, and a well-stocked bar.
The Lounge (thrillist.com)
The theater itself is laid out with large, plush, electronically controlled recliners with a table between them. Your waiter is only a press of a button away, service is prompt, and the cocktails are strong if a bit pricey at about $13 each. This brings up the inevitable down side of a visit to Gold Class Cinemas: the price tag. Two tickets ($23 each) four drinks (about $12 each) and an appetizer (average $12) will run you $106 (fortunately we had a gift certificate). Add a meal or some dessert and you’re looking at a small car payment. Considering that just the ticket at the Highland Theater is almost 1/6th the price on their $3 Wednesdays, you might not want to borrow against your 401k to see Shrek Forever After. Still, it’s nice to catch a movie without a family of five treating the row behind you like it’s their living room (my experience last time I visited the Highland Theater).
42 Miller Alley
Pasadena, CA 91103
The Theater (reelguys.podbean.com)
I sense a few “Beyond Northeast” posts in the works. The most time sensitive of these posts concerns the Pasadena Museum of Contemporary Art’s current exhibition, The Ulysses Guide to the L.A. River. Before doing any research, I was hoping for an exhibit combining the eponymous Greek hero with one of the most underwhelming, yet influential, bodies of water I’ve ever lived near. I would have even accepted Leopold Bloom wandering through Cypress Park, but literary allusions aside, the exhibit consumed the senses, entertained, and provoked more than a little emotion.
The Wall Street Journal wrote a nice review of the exhibition, so I don’t need to reinvent the wheel in explaining it here but suffice to say that it draws heavily on the graffiti tradition associated with the river’s acres of concrete embankments. Piped-in urban sounds and carefully placed detritus add to the illusion of place, which evokes a slightly unsettling sensation of being in an urban landscape not intended for human habitation, but full of life and creation nonetheless.
Chaz Bojorquez, Sr. Suerte
Most provocative, and prescient considering this blog’s focus, is local artist Chaz Bojorquez’s, Mr. Lucky, a skull sporting a fur coat and fedora with his fingers crossed. The symbol, created by Bojorquez decades ago, had become a popular gang icon in NELA, and is therefore loaded with undertones of violence and fear, yet ironically, Bojorquez originally intended the image to represent a combination of hippie culture and the Chicano movement of the 1960s. (According to the book, The Ulysses Guide to the L.A. River)
This excellent exhibit runs through July 3rd and just might tempt you to walk home down the Arroyo Seco.
Ako Castuera, Water & Power, Oil on wood panel, 2008, 22 x 33 inches
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The Vendy Awards are moving their annual awards from New York to Los Angeles to pit bacon-wrapped hot dogs vs. tacos in a battle royale that promises to decide the best L.A. street food vendor. The event will be held on May 15th, in MacArthur Park, and your $50 admission gets you all the food and alcohol you can drink between 4-7 PM. The event has already begun garnering some buzz, but for those of you who care about the larger social issues surrounding street vending, we hope to provide you with a bit of background for the awards.
In August 2009 Sean Basinski of the Street Vendor Project in New York City contacted us hoping to scout Los Angeles’ street food scene for the awards. (At the time, his group was also considering Philadelphia.) In my more narcissistic moments, I like to think he came to us because we’re experts, but the sensible truth is simply that we have a website and speak English. Sean eventually made it out to Los Angeles in August and spent a few days meeting with some of the groups that have dedicated themselves to the larger social issues surrounding street food, the Loncheros Association for one. When we were finally able to meet up with Sean, he was excited about our city’s vibrant street food scene. Since everyone had to be at work the next morning, we took him to a few local spots as an introduction: Tacos La Estrella on York, and to the Figueroa Street Marketplace for some esquites. (He declined the cologne and DVDs.) Sean struck us as altruistic and dedicated to improving the plight of street vendors; He simply needed a bit of a primer on the Mexican street food that didn’t seem to be familiar to his New York palate. We sold him hard on L.A., and eight months later, here we are.
True $50 seems like a steep price to pay for admission to a three hour food fair, but consider the fiasco that ensued at the L.A. Street Food Fest: $5 admission resulted in thousands of people waiting in line who were denied admission, long lines for the vendors inside the festival, and a shortage of the more popular dishes. Tickets to the Vendys are limited, include food and drink, and are tax deductible. Also, if you’re so inclined, the festival will coincide with the end of Contesting the Streets, an academic conference on street vending hosted by the UCLA Center for the Study of Urban Poverty. I for one am looking forward to Queering el Barrio: Latina Immigrant Street Vendors Navigate and Perform Queer and Gendered Identities in Los Angeles. It just has a catchy title.