Olympic fever


30 years ago this week, the 1984 Summer Olympics started with a blast (quite literally, a dude in a jetpack) and Los Angeles was never the same. I’ve spent the last year researching and writing a few pieces on the Games That Changed Everything and I’ve never been more proud to be an Angeleno. Here’s my Olympics round up.

How LA’s 1984 Summer Olympics Became the Most Successful Games Ever: At Gizmodo, we’ve been covering the financial stress that Olympic Games have put on cities in recent years. Which led me down a path to figure out which cities—if any—had benefitted from the Games. In fact, the best example of all was right here in LA, and it was largely due to the smart design! A truly inspirational tale of civic pride, from a time and place you wouldn’t expect.

Why Would Any Country Host the World Cup?: As a follow up, I started to investigate some of the reforms that had been proposed to help reign in costs and impacts from the Olympics as well as the World Cup. I was excited to speak with Barry Sanders, chair of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games, about LA’s 2024 bid and how LA plans to be fiscally and environmentally responsible yet again.

Interview with Deborah Sussman: As part of their amazing 80s issue, Los Angeles Magazine asked me to sit down with the great Deborah Sussman, whose graphic design drove the identity of the Games and transformed the city. I gladly spent a few hours hearing the whole story from Deborah—from the color palette she saw in a dream to the story of the LA 84 logo.


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A transit map for drinking

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Behold, Thrillist’s Metro Drinking Map, which has been making the rounds on Twitter over the last few weeks. It seems pretty intuitive—drink your way through Los Angeles, unfettered by automobiles—but here are the official rules™: One bar per station, 10 minute walk max to bar (give or take), and the goal is that the bar is somewhat representative of the neighborhood. Some are *really* hard—who would have guessed LA has bar deserts?

But what’s especially awesome is that this map is being shared as a work-in-progress. Hate a stop’s choice? Have a pick for one of the blank stations? Tweet at @jeshizaemon and he will take your suggestions. Looks like they especially need ideas for the Green and Blue lines.

Here are a few of my recommendations to get you started. Add yours in the comments and I’ll put them in list form. My only question: When is the bar crawl?

Red Line
Hollywood/Western: Harvard and Stone

Expo Line
La Cienega/Jefferson: Mandrake
Expo/La Brea: Club Fais Do-Do
Farmdale: The Cork
Expo/Crenshaw: Post and Beam

Orange Line
Chandler/Laurel Canyon: Bar One Beer & Wine Parlour
Valley College: Robin Hood British Pub

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Drink with your favorite Gizmodo writers


In August I will celebrate one year as the Urbanism Editor at Gizmodo, a job that has been so incredibly fun and rewarding it rarely feels like work. There will be plenty more reasons to raise a glass at our Gizmodo LA Happy Hour on August 11, but that’s a pretty good one for me. Other reasons include: Meeting the five other LA-based Gizmodo writers, carousing with readers of Gawker Media sites, and because drinking in the summer is fun.

We’re going to the Cat & Fiddle in Hollywood on August 11 from 6 to 9pm. All details here, and you can RSVP on Facebook if that’s your thing. Looking forward to seeing all my fellow Gizmodo fans there.

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Celebrate my Streetsie with a walk in Echo Park


A few months ago I was named Journalist of the Year by Streetsblog LA, an awesome site that advocates for complete streets, pedestrian safety, bike infrastructure, transit improvements—basically all the things I believe will make a better LA.

This Saturday, I’m being honored with that Streetsie Award alongside my fellow Los Angeles Walks steering committee member Jessica Meaney (see the above selfie), who was named Advocate of the Year. So of course we opted to turn the award ceremony into a walk… to a party.

Join us this Saturday in Echo Park for a short walk through one of our favorite neighborhoods, including a look at the dramatic restoration of the century-old lake. This Saturday is also the Lotus Festival, a longstanding Echo Park tradition that has been revived with the return of the lotuses themselves, which now ring the lake once again.

We’ll meet at Square One Cafe at the Boathouse on Echo Park Lake at 11:00 am (where you can get an awesome breakfast if you need to eat beforehand), then take a very chill, all-generation-friendly walk around the lake to a secret location for drinks and food. Afterwards you’ll be properly pre-partied and right in the middle of all the action for the Lotus Festival.

Tickets are a suggested donation of $10 but you can pay what you wish. Kids welcome and encouraged (they will love the walk!) but you don’t need to buy tickets for anyone under 12.

You can buy tickets here, see who’s going on Facebook here, and check out more information about the day here. All proceeds benefit Streetsblog LA, so please come and support a great organization working for a better Los Angeles! See you Saturday!

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The “not a good place for a bar crawl” bar crawl

Having dinner by myself is something I treasure when I'm traveling but hardly ever do at home. Here's to more meals eaten alone,

“Los Angeles is not what you would call a bar town, and for all the obvious reasons. The region covers almost 5,000 square miles. While public transit does exist there — and taxis and Uber are thriving — it is not New York: If you stumble out of a bar on the way home, there’s not a subway on the corner.”

It occurred to me some time ago that I might as well discontinue the #LAhaters project and simply award the Lifetime Achievement Award to the New York Times’ Adam Nagourney, who consistently serves up the most hatery haterade with columns that are somewhere between misguided and evil. The latest, “In Los Angeles, Old-Fashioned Glamour or Hip Mixology” starts with the head-shaking paragraph above. But the one line that cuts the most comes a bit later: “This is not a good place for a bar crawl.” As a semi-professional organizer of Los Angeles bar crawls, I have to disrespectfully disagree.

I have other issues with the piece, like the inclusion of some puzzling choices—Vintage Enoteca is a nice neighborhood wine bar but in no way a destination; Sunset Tower is a pretty place for a drink but not our best example of cutting-edge mixology—and the fact that the bars he chose were all clustered in one small corner of the city (not a single bar downtown?). Upon further examination, however, the bars’ geographic proximity struck me for a different reason: These four destinations would actually make the perfect bar crawl.

Therefore, I present to you my itinerary for the “Not a Good Place for a Bar Crawl” Bar Crawl, including detailed walking and transit directions. Click the little rectangle in the upper right to expand or head over to the site to see it larger. It sounds like a great day to me, shall we plan a time soon to try it out?

Start at Laurel Hardware: The most food-oriented spot on the list is the best place to start the crawl, so might I suggest you begin here with some carb-loading. If you do the crawl on the weekend and want to start in daylight hours, brunch starts at 11:00 a.m. and goes until 3:30 p.m. And it is delicious.

Walk from Laurel Hardware to Tower Bar: After your boozy breakfast, it’s a quick 17-minute walk to the Strip. I’ve selected a route through West Hollywood’s Harper Street Historic District, which will give you a beautiful introduction to the 1920’s Art Deco architecture of Sunset Tower. The only catch for doing the crawl during the day is that the Tower Bar doesn’t open until 6:00 p.m., so time your arrival appropriately. Otherwise the Terrace Bar is outdoors, has great views, and is open all day.

Walk from Tower Bar to Vintage Enoteca: After your high-class imbibing you can walk down the Strip, with optional stop at the Guitar Center, to Vintage Enoteca, 20 minutes away. They’re conveniently open every day until midnight. (If you’d rather bus it, it’s a quick 10 minute ride.)

Bus from Vintage Enoteca to Covell: Grab the 2 bus at Gardner and Sunset. It’s only $1.50 per trip, which you can pay in cash (exact change only), but you can also ask for a day pass for $6, which gives you unlimited rides and comes with a TAP card that can be reloaded with fare next time you ride. Download the Metro app to your phone and you’ll be able to get route information as well as real-time arrivals so you’ll know if you have time to order another glass. After the 35-minute ride, hop off at the corner of Virgil and Sunset and walk a half-block to Covell.

End at Covell: There’s no better place in the city to end your night than Covell, easily one of my favorite L.A. bars. In this tiny, cozy space you can sample life-changing wines (I could write an entire article about a vinho verde I had here) with the friendliest and most knowledgable of folks, and fill up on exquisite bar snacks. If you need to get somewhere after last call, you can summon a taxi or Uber (I hear they are thriving), but it’s also very easy to get home on transit—the Red Line is less than a block away.

Yes, that’s correct. There is a subway on the corner.

Posted in eating, partying, riding, walking | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

The New Yorker needs more photos of LA

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You may remember this image and some of the language below it from few months ago when the article “Leaving Los Angeles” received an impressive 629 points on the LA Haterating scale.

Well, this week, The New Yorker published another article about Los Angeles, and I thought for a moment I had clicked upon the very same hatery article.

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I will not be giving Gabriel Kahane’s essay an #LAhaters rating—frankly, because it’s pretty and honest and slyly winking in all the best ways—but I do want to mention something here about the story. I’m really worried about The New Yorker. Apparently the publication only owns this one photo of Los Angeles.

It’s a beautiful photo, no doubt, shot by one Bruce Davidson. Surely it’s not the only photo of Los Angeles by Bruce Davidson, seeing as they’ve made an entire video about him taking photos of Los Angeles. But for two very different articles about two very different people experiencing two different parts of a city, they have chosen to use the exact same photo. There’s no other explanation for it: They must only have one.

Here’s the more upsetting fact to some: As several people have pointed out, this photo is of a part of town that most people would identify as San Pedro, which—while still technically LA—is its own place (and at one time, was its own city).

For a publication that sometimes runs a department called “Postcard from Los Angeles,” you’d think they’d have, perhaps, one postcard from Los Angeles?

Unfortunately, they don’t. But it makes sense to me now. It makes sense now why The New Yorker would have this skewed, stereotypical view of our city. They’ve only seen this one image of it. And it’s not even in color.

Let’s send The New Yorker our photos of LA so they might believe that there is more than just this one street, this one palm tree, this one black-and-white vista. I want to help show this publication what LA is really like. You can dispatch your images as tweets to @NewYorker. I just did.


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The Big Parade: You can do it!


It’s time!

The routes and timetables have been posted for this year’s Big Parade, almost certainly the best urban hike on the planet. At least in LA.

As I told the Daily News in an article about this year’s event:

“The Big Parade is a great example of an event that combines everything I love about walking in L.A. — community, history, nature, architecture — into one adventure,” said longtime participant Alissa Walker, urbanism editor at the blog Gizmodo and a member of the steering committee for Los Angeles Walks, a pedestrian advocacy organization.

“You end up meeting your neighbors and seeing parts of your neighborhood you’ve never seen before. But you also gain a greater understanding of how the city is knit together.”

I stand by that statement.

In addition to all the community, history, nature, and architecture, this year we have a really big, really awesome surprise in the form of a private concert at the home of my friend Joshua Wolf Shenk. He’s hosting the amazing Gabriel Kahane, who has written an entire album of songs about LA, which you may have heard on NPR. The party is Saturday night but you can only find out where it is if you’re walking with us on Saturday. What better reason is there to join?

I’ll also be walking the entire day Sunday, starting at the Music Box Stairs, just down the street from my house. There’s no better feeling than ending the weekend at Griffith Observatory at sunset. Okay, there’s maybe one better feeling: the first post-walk margarita.

Check out all the details over at The Big Parade website, and to get yourself pumped you can also read up on all my coverage over the years:

Walking for walking in Los Angeles (2009)
100 staircases, 35 miles, two days, and too many new friends to count (2010)
Six garages, six gardens & Taking the stairs (2011)
The very Big Parade (2012)
Five things to know about The Big Parade (2013)

I’ll see you there!

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Happy 75th, Union Station


It’s a place I visit several times a week as part of my car-free journeys. You’d think the drama of the spot would have worn off by now. Yet every time I round this corner with my rollie suitcase or my laptop tucked under my arm, I stop what I’m doing and absorb the beauty. Since 1939, Union Station has been turning the heads of commuters and visitors alike, and this year, our grandest and most gorgeous structure turned 75 years old.

There have been plenty of celebrations and commemorations for the station, but I wanted to point your attention to a book called Union Station: 75 Years In the Heart of LA, featuring essays about the station’s civic significance. I’m incredibly honored to say that I was asked to contribute an essay to the book, and my name is listed alongside my writing heroes like David Kipen, Marisela Norte, and D. J. Waldie.

photo 6My essay, “Union Station Today: Making Cultural Connections,” is now posted over at the Metro blog, where you’ll soon be able to read all the essays in the book. Here’s a small excerpt from mine, which explains my thesis that Union Station has become a vibrant part of LA’s swiftly urbanizing life:

When I breeze through Union Station, making my transfer to the Metro Gold Line or catching the FlyAway to LAX, I’m used to seeing a wedding party posing for photos among the rose bushes of the patio, or a film shoot bringing the long-empty Old Ticket Concourse back to life. The picturesque passageways and their well-preserved artistry will always be the go-to stand-in for 1940s L.A.

But in the last few years, with the staging of massive music performances like Invisible Cities, art-world spectacles (such as the recent Station to Station happening in September 2013), and critical civic moments, the role of Union Station has transformed from a period-perfect backdrop into an animated cultural concourse.

Now, in addition to being the connective tissue between the city’s nodes, for an increasingly transit-oriented Los Angeles, Union Station has become a crucial part of the destination.

photo 5

If you’re like me and enjoy some LA history mixed with some train nerdery, this book will hit the sweet spot. You can buy your copy here. A huge thanks to Heidi Zeller and Metro for asking me to contribute to this project.

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See you in the future


Attention New Yorkers (and designy folks who will be in town for ICFF), I wanted to let you know about this very exciting event I’m helping to organize for NYCxDESIGN: the Gizmodo Home of the Future!

Yes, we are building an actual apartment inside of an old gymnasium and filling it with our favorite products, ideas and people from May 16-21. I’m going to be hanging out there all week (heck, maybe even sleeping there if the bed is comfortable) and hosting events on urbanism, food, transportation, telepresence, and more.

Come say hi and take a sneak peek on Friday, May 16 at the opening party from 7-9pm at 268 Mulberry Street, between Houston St. and Prince St.

Check out the schedule of daily events and parties, or just come hang out during the day—we will have a co-working lounge with comfy chairs and fast wifi, so if you need a place to work, you can come blog along with the Gizmodo team. See you sometime in the future!

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Join me at CAMP

Last year around this time I headed off to a magical adventure in the woods, CAMP. This business conference that is so much more than a business conference was one of my highlights of 2013, and I even included it as an example of what to do right in this article I wrote about design conferences for Communication Arts:

That motto was on my mind this summer when I attended CAMP, a new creative business conference held at a YMCA summer camp in Big Bear, California. About 120 attendees stayed in same-sex cabins and signed up for workshops ranging from social media marketing to foraging and wildcrafting. There was even a camp dance. By the last night, I had learned new skills like indigo dyeing and professional product photography, but it all happened in a setting that was inspiring and invigorating—it made me feel as though I hadn’t sacrificed my work or life to be there. The best part of all: there was not a plastic name badge in sight.

Sounds good, right? This year’s CAMP promises to be even more magical. It takes place May 29 to June 1 in beautiful Big Bear Lake, which is only two hours from LA but feels worlds away. I’ll be giving one of the breakfast keynotes, but you’ll be wide awake because you’ll already have taken your morning polar bear plunge, of course.

Use the secret discount code CAMPlawalker and you’ll get 15% off. Register here, and read more about what I learned at CAMP last year.

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