Itinerary: Silver Lake

TIMES STAFF WRITER

So that there's no false advertising here, Silver Lake isn't really either. The bluish reservoir, built in 1907, was named for Herman Silver, a member of L.A.'s Board of Water Commissioners.

The neighborhood surrounding it is, like so many in L.A., an area that its residents adore and most others couldn't find on a map. (It's about five miles north of downtown L.A., couched between the 101 and 5 freeways.) Those who do discover it can be charmed by its quirky shops and restaurants, or turned off by its down-at-the-heels patches and unnavigable hillside residential streets.

The area is also an architectural microcosm. Spanish-style houses dominate the landscape, but the hills are dotted with Craftsman bungalows and modernist masterpieces (some of which will be on the Modernist Silver Lake 2000 tour Oct. 21-22. [213] 612-5271).

Thursday

The first Silver Lake Film Festival begins tonight, focusing on the area's film history and contemporary filmmaking. Before Hollywood became the center for studios, Mack Sennett, Walt Disney, Tom Mix and others made their silent movies here.

The festival opens tonight at the Vista (4473 Sunset Drive, [323] 660-6639) with "The Gold Cup," directed by Lucas Reiner, about life in a 24-hour coffee shop. Writer-filmmaker Kenneth Anger receives the Spirit of Silver Lake Award tonight, while a retrospective of his work is scheduled Sunday at noon at the Los Feliz 3 (1822 N. Vermont Blvd., [323] 664-2169). More features, shorts, documentaries and lectures continue through Sunday. The box office is at the Los Feliz 3. (323) 221-1763 or http://www.silver lakefilmfestival.com. (See Screening Room, Page 36.)

Friday

Sunset Junction--which still retains the name from a long-gone streetcar stop--is an Eastside antidote to Old Town Pasadena. There is no Pottery Barn or Z Gallerie on this stretch of Sunset Boulevard (between Fountain Avenue and Edgecliffe Drive), but instead funky--often vintage--furnishings at the Snivling Sibbling, Den of Antiquity, or up the street a bit, Furthur. Clothes are not of the Gap variety, either. Ragg Mopp, Silver Lake Outpost and others sell mostly vintage clothes.

There are a growing number of places to dine, as well. Quench your thirst with some mint iced tea at the Casbah Cafe, try some gumbo at Cirxa, or have an intimate French dinner at Cafe Stella.

Saturday

The clubs on the Sunset Strip and those near Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake are more than just six miles apart. They're worlds apart. The best known is still probably Spaceland (1717 Silver Lake Blvd., [213] 833-2843), which leans toward the alternative end of music. Sci-fi-ish rockers Trans Am play Saturday.

If you like your rock to be the down-and-dirty variety, try the Garage (4519 Santa Monica Blvd., [323] 662-6802) where Saturday night is the club the Bar That Sucks. On the bill: Doom Kounty Electric Chair, Bubble, the Accessories and Top Heavy Whores.

Sunday

When the Colony Theater moved into bigger digs in Burbank, the Pasadena-based Knightsbridge Theatre company (1944 Riverside Drive. $18. [626] 440-0821) opened a new branch in their old Silver Lake location. They're running two shows through Sept. 24: "Godspell" (Thursdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 5 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.) and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" set in New York City during the Beatnik era (Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 6 p.m.).

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