Cars, Comics, and Chorizo?

Ξ November 26th, 2008 | → Comments Off | ∇ 90042, Beyond Northeast, Food, Highland Park, Shopping |

Yes, yes, I wish Chorizo started with a hard C for the perfect amount of consonance.  Still, I had quite the day in Los Angeles and feel the need to spread the word.

Item 1: I attended the LA Auto Show in search of a truck.  Now I know that gas prices won’t be at $1.99 forever (see the Shell on Figueroa and Ave 52 or the Chevron on York and Figueroa) but I’m ready for something at least slightly less responsible than the late ’90s Japanese midsize I drive currently.  Impressively, the GMC Sierra will come in a Hybrid in 2009 that gets 21 MPG Highway, compared to 15-16 mpg for comparable full size pickups.

The surprise of the show for me was Dodge.  Remember the early ’90′s when Married With Children equated Dodge with the Yugo?  Well, the Detroit company has reclaimed it’s musclecar roots with a relaunch of the Challenger that stopped me in my tracks.  Again, it’s far from the most responsible car one could buy in 2009, but it’s a lot more fun than a Smartcar.

One thing I always enjoy at the autoshow are the women selling the cars as they tell you so much about the brand you’re visiting.  For example,

Volvo: More mature women with a touch of grey.  Attractive and respectable, they look like a Brentwood mom picking up her kid at soccer practice.

Honda & Mazda: Attractive but conservative.  Nothing to write home about but nothing to be ashamed of either.

Lamborghini: Italian centerfolds with Beverly Hills (or Milan) augmented breasts and suitably detached smiles sucked you in, but made it clear they were waaaaaaay out of your reach.

Ford:  This one is “Mustang Team” specific, but the one girl and four guys were clad in black and brown leather jackets, tight jeans, black leather shoes, slicked-back hair, and black sunglasses.  Absolute Americana.

Porsche: Cold, hard, and blond, these beautiful women had the gaze of the queen’s guard and wouldn’t smile for anyone or anything.

Item 2: Lately, I’ve caved to my inner-nerd and succumbed to the world of graphic novels.  I may teach Persepolis this spring, and I’m still looking for other works for both academic and intellectual pleasure.  On a recommendation, Secret Headquarters in Silverlake proved to be the perfect place to set me up with a miniature library of graphic novels.  My favorites plus what I’m reading so far.

Watchmen:  Alan Moore deconstructs the superhero motif in what has become the Bible of graphic novels.  If you’re not much for reading, the film is due out in March.

Ex Machina: Brian K. Vaughan mixes The West Wing with a superhero who is able to speak to machines.  Mitchell Hundred finds his trials as NYC mayor will be much more difficult than anything he faced as a the bumbling hero “The Great Machine”.

Pride of Baghdad: Based on the true story of four escaped lions from the Baghdad zoo during the allied invasion of Iraq in 2003, Brian K Vaughan (see Ex Machina and Y: The Last Man) explores the idea of freedom in this allegory.

Persepolis: Marjane Satrapi recounts her adolescence in Iran during the fall of the Shah and the subsequent bildungsroman follows her to Austria and back to Tehran.

Maus: Art Speigleman won a Pulitzer in this exploration of his father’s survival of the Holocaust as a Polish Jew.

Thanks to Secret Hideout, I’ll also be perusing DMZ, Y: The Last Man, Good Bye Chunky Rice, and Laika.

Item 3: Some of us will be cooking Thanksgiving meals tomorrow morning and I can suggest the perfect Highland Park dish to take home to the family.  My father’s Chorizo stuffing was a classic mix of Hispanic, Anglo, and delicious.  Enjoy:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 pound ground pork
1/4 pound fresh chorizo sausage, crumbled
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
12 slices white sandwich bread
1 cup chicken stock
1 pinch crushed red pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the pork and chorizo and cook until completely browned. Add the onions, celery and bell pepper, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Put the bread in a large rectangular glass baking dish and pour in the chicken stock. Soak for 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove and squeeze each slice, reserving the stock. In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread and stock with the pork and vegetable mixture. Mix well. Season with salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper. Stir in the parsley. Let cool completely and season again with salt and black pepper. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Transfer dressing to a 3 quart baking dish and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until browned on top.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

(Thanks to

Secret Headquarters
3817 W. Sunset Blvd.



“Fashion” 21 buys Mervyns

Ξ October 7th, 2008 | → 1 Comments | ∇ 90042, Highland Park, Press, Shopping |

On the heels of a post on Yum-Yum Donuts having it’s roots in Highland Park, did you know that Fashion 21 is the first store of the international retailer better known as Forever 21?  The store opened on the corner of Avenue 56 and Figueroa in 1989 and since then, Forever 21 has expanded to to over 400 stores from the US to Saudi Arabia (Yum-Yum and Winchell’s have nearly half that number for comparison).  Their profits in 2007 topped $1.3 billion and they recently announced they would be purchasing 150 stores from the now bankrupt Mervyns.

Now, I won’t really attempt to write a review on a women’s clothing store, but I have been inside on more than one occasion with my girlfriend who usually finds something on the disorganized racks that she likes at a very low price.  Yelp has a useful review, but if any of you venture in, drop us a line and let us know what you think. 

So, why the name change?  I had a conversation with one of their purchasers once and her story was that as Fashion 21 grew, they didn’t want to be associated with the neighborhoods they were currently in.  A Highland Park address doesn’t sell well to Vals in the Sherman Oaks Galleria.  Thus, the original stores (there is one downtown and in Alhambra) have retained the name while the stores that began popping up in malls took the “Forever” moniker.

Little of this will matter to readers who don’t wear women’s clothing, but guys, let me sweeten the offer for you.  Score some points by joining your girlfriend or wife over there, and then enjoy the corn and fruit vendors who set up shop outside.  You’ll thank me later.


Los Angeles Magazine’s Best of LA

Ξ July 30th, 2008 | → Comments Off | ∇ 90041, 90042, 90065, Best Of, Food, Highland Park, Shopping |

Sorting through my three-week-tall stack of mail, I picked out Los Angeles Magazine’s August issue because 1. I needed something to write about and 2. I’m a sucker for “Best Of” issues.  Fortunately for me, our (extended) neighborhood was reasonably well represented.  The honorees:

 Best Mexican Breakfast: El Huarachito in Lincoln Heights.  I’ve been dying for chilaquiles so I may try this spot this morning.

Best Newly Remodeled Library: Arroyo Seco Regional Branch Library.  I really love the architecture and interior space of this spot.  My only gripe is the magazine’s reference to the design as “early-20th-century Craftsman” when my understanding is it is really influenced by El Alisal.

Best Hip Kids’ Clothing: Rocking Kid Show in Eagle Rock.  I can’t say much about this spot as I don’t have kids (and if I did I probably wouldn’t dress them in skinny jeans and Ramones/Blondie Tshirts, but unto each their own…) 


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