All the City’s a Market

It’s one of my favorite things about living in Los Angeles. On any given week, I may visit any number of ethnic markets: Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and Korean groceries; Italian delis; Russian and Polish markets; Mexican carnicerias, Oaxacan specialty shops and the Vallarta supermercado; stores dedicated to Persian, Argentine, Hawaiian, British, Spanish, Ethiopian and all other variety of global foods.

Grand Central Market stall in 1920

Grand Central Market stall in 1920

One market I used to visit periodically if I was in the neighborhood — which happened to be the farmacias, counterfeit sportswear shops and old-theaters-turned-Mexican-iglesias of Broadway in downtown — was the Grand Central Market. An open-air affair spanning the length of the block on the ground floor of a large building, the market opened in 1917 and over the course of recent decades had turned into its equivalent of any similar market in Mexico City, Mazatlan, Guadalajara or a hundred other large Mexican cities — piles of dried chiles, pinto beans, mangos and nopales, cases of stinky meat and pig’s heads, votive candles and fresh corn tortillas. More

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Treat… or Trick

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It was Halloween many, many years ago — quite obviously before I had children of my own, as you will soon see.

My pal, Mike, and I were at his girlfriend’s parents house in an affluent suburb of Los Angeles, waiting for our dates, who were upstairs putting the finishing touches on their Halloween costumes. We were reclining on the couch, into our second or third beers, when the doorbell rang. More

Lunch in Little Tokyo

When I was a lad, one of my favorite parts of L.A. to visit was Little Tokyo. I loved traveling downtown with my mom, walking around Japanese Village Plaza, grabbing an imagawayaki at the Mitsura Café, strolling through Japanese gardens at the New Otani Hotel or the Japanese/American Cultural Center, maybe popping into the warehouse-y MOCA Temporary Contemporary Museum.

Totoros of every size at the New Tokyo Lifestyle gift shop in Japanese Village Plaza

Totoros of every size at the New Tokyo Lifestyle gift shop in Japanese Village Plaza

It’s a love I’ve passed along to my own children. So when, on a Mother’s Day, we’re trying to decide where to go on an adventure and for lunch, it is not a surprise to hear Flynn suggest: “Let’s go to Little Tokyo!” More

Chiles Rellenos, High Speed Chases & Le Creuset

I was in kitchen, making dinner, when my 8-year-old son yelled from the family room. “Dad, car chase!”

Here in Los Angeles, we have our share of high-speed car chases — if you’re old enough to remember the O.J. Simpson murders, you’ll recall we even have slow-speed car chases. We’ve got a lot of cars, a lot of freeways, and a fair percentage of people doing things they shouldn’t be. I typically don’t pay much attention — it seems prurient, like staring at a car wreck or a topless woman on a European beach. But once in awhile, I get sucked in. Which is what happened the other night, as I cooked chiles rellenos. More

A Tentative Ode to My City

I was sitting on the grass the other evening at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, shaded by the opulent mausoleum of Los Angeles royalty — Douglas Fairbanks and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. — waiting for one of my favorite bands, Iceland’s Sigur Ros, to begin playing a concert… when I felt a bony tap on my shoulder.

Amplifiers playing ambient music as you entered Hollywood Forever

It was not the mummified finger of a famous corpse that I had feared, but a young couple from Canada sitting behind me. “Hello,” they said.  “Are you from around here?” More

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