L.A. Los Angeles Times Magazine | Oct. 5, 2008

My L.A.: Hollywood's New Counterculture

Here's an idea for the next installment of the Saw torture-porn series: Set it in ancient Rome, with early Christians ousted from their underground chapel and put through a myriad of sadistic deaths.

The Ear: The Daily Factor

Comedian David Steinberg continues in his role as “Ear”—that is, a sounding board--to some of the funniest people working today.

Hollywood Rules: Kind Over Matter

There's only one rule that I know of, babies--God damn it, you've got to be kind. --Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

The Gadfly: What Digby Says

Stop anyone on the street, and they'll know of Arianna Huffington—and she's glad they do. But the Left's second most influential blogger prefers anonymity.

We Built This City: Soil Survivors

This isn't going to be one of those romantic stories about how Tapia Brothers is one of the last holdouts of the old-time produce stands (even though it is), a dusty place in Encino with a wooden counter and bins of fresh veggies and fruits, roosters crowing from a coop and a red tractor. It's just the kind of roadside stand that used to be a fixture in the San Fernando Valley when it was more American Gothic than suburb boom.

Almost Heaven

Up the coast, down the road and under the arbor at Rancho San Julian near Buellton, yellow jackets swoop through our lunch, falling into our wine, leaving behind smudges of pollen from the fertile Santa Barbara mesa. Jim Poett is pulling a bee out of his daughter's bowl of ice cream. His strong silence at the long table belies his pride in his daughter, Elizabeth Poett, 28. Jim is one of the first organic beef farmers, former president of the South Coast branch of CCOF ( California Certified Organic Farmers) and collaborator on the California Organic Foods Act of 1990. Just as Jim did almost 30 years ago, Elizabeth has returned home to her family's ranch from the big city. She has all the best intentions and is mentored by her father in order to realize her heroic visions of better beef. For Elizabeth, it's all about continuation and preservation of tradition, family, land, community—and feeding us really, really well.

What's Frank Up To?

He’s been called the prophet of architecture. I know him as Frank. Thirty years ago when I was a cub reporter, I wrote the first story about him that appeared in a “popular” magazine—meaning not an architecture magazine. I was (and am) married to an architect, so I knew something about design and building, but I was not prepared for Frank.

Elements of Style

While New York has its clannish brownstones and San Francisco its overplayed Victorian veneer, Los Angeles is a deliberate fracas of residential styles or, rather, a collection of self-realizations from individuals who happen to share the same streets. From Mission Revival to Arts and Crafts to Modernism, the city celebrates its eclectic legacy. Perhaps no one does this more than Nancy Heller.

A New Leaf: Vegans Make the Cut

You may question why a vegan such as myself has been dying to dine at Cut. First, it’s like being allowed into the cool people’s hang, what with the giant pictures of George Clooney and Marilyn Manson suspended on the walls. It’s definitely the coolest joint in town, even though the place is nearly all about meat. I have to wonder why they aren’t throwing me out by the ear upon noticing I’m a little too ecstatic about my reservation.

Dating My Husband: Footloose and Family Free

It seems like most of our married life with kids, my husband, Chad, and I reenacted episodes of Prison Break every time we wanted to go on a date. Sometimes we’d wait until our girls were asleep before we left them with the babysitter and scaled the walls, praying that a klieg light of a toddler wail didn’t catch us mid-tiptoe. Whenever we accomplished this, the freedom intoxicated us to a point where we’d be laughing our guts out as we screamed down Beverly Glen in the “getaway” Acura.

I'm Still Hungry: Chef d'Oeuvre

When I hear Michael Mina is opening a restaurant at the foot of Laurel Canyon, my first thought is, Another restaurant? Doesn’t he already have more than a dozen? I’ve always been dubious of chefs who want to expand their empires. Doesn’t one eatery keep you busy enough? How is it possible to oversee the food and all the details that go into running a top restaurant? This prejudice is one I’ve carried around for a long time. That is, until I meet Mina.

City of Angels: Speak Easy

Of course everyone is entitled to an opinion—but you have to be a Bill Gates for that opinion to make it to prime time. Until now.

A Picture of Health: The Worried Well

Medical private practice in Los Angeles has some unique features. We Angelenos fear the occasional earthquake, drought and fire, along with the more frequent wrinkles, subcutaneous fat and less than perfect health. Since we can’t do much about the earth’s surprises, we seek more control of our own bodies. Nowadays, this means patients crave the latest, often most expensive, tests money (or insurance) can buy.

A Dog's Life: Rx for Izzy

Among the mystical questions to ponder—Is there life after death? Are there black holes in space?—the toughest of them just might be, How the hell do you find a good veterinarian in this town?

My Best Story: My Last Lunch with Orson

One afternoon in the fall of 1985, during our weekly or every-other-weekly lunch at Ma Maison, Orson Welles told me attacks were beginning to come in, in response to a slew of books that had recently been published about him, especially Barbara Leaming’s wonderfully supportive—and to his mind, largely accurate—biography. He still hadn’t read it, wasn’t going to, he said, because he knew he’d be mad, as she’d used several of his best stories.

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