There’s a Bootleg Jurassic Park-Themed Restaurant in Los Angeles
Weirdness is getting harder to find these days.
Between marketers, sitcom characters, and whacky dickheads in shirts that say things about ninjas and bacon, genuinly odd stuff is difficult to come by. So I was extremely excited to hear about Jurassic Restaurant, a (presumably) unofficial Jurassic Park-themed Taiwanese restaurant in Industry, California.
Weird shit used to be everywhere. If Tod Browning’s Freaks is to be believed, it used to be that you could barely open your door without tripping over some undiscovered weirdo.
But then lunacy got gentrified and oddness became mainstream—co-opted by Phoebe from Friends and printed on trucker caps to be sold at Hot Topic (over 600 locations nationwide).
American entertainment became about gawking at weirdos. TV shows about women who eat couches or get plastic surgery to look like celebrities became the norm. The guy with a 300-pound scrotum (RIP) got an agent.
Marketers and advertisers got their claws in, too. Weirdness used to be a pursuit for outsiders, but now it’s thought up by teams of market researchers, to be regurgitated by the Old Spice Guy or the Geico Gecko.
What You Can Learn from the LA’s Abandoned Street Couches
Archaeologists have long known you can learn heaps about a culture from its trash, and the Los Angeles street couch is no exception. These artifacts say more about us than just laziness. They tell stories of butts and passion and bad television, maybe even birth and death.
Pay enough attention, and you’ll start to realize these couches fit into certain categories, even though they won’t fit into your compact car. Pay enough attention, and a taxonomy appears.
The Cushionless Couch
This is the most common species of Los Angeles street couch, and all sofas without attached cushions meet this fate within a few hours. Those cushions might as well be currency for the homeless, and once they’re stripped, the couch is guaranteed a long life on the curb without any takers.
The Whole Living Room on the Curb
Nothing quite says “forceful eviction” like an entire living room chucked onto the sidewalk. Unlike your regular street-couch sightings, which tend to happen toward the end of the month, the whole living room on the curb can be seen almost any time.
Jerry O’Connell Is Currently Doing Some Kind of Super Artsy Thing in Los Angeles
Shia LeBeouf’s performance art piece in Los Angeles has changed the way our society looks at celebrity. It’s a groundbreaking work, the likes of which have never been seen before. Obviously, copycats were bound to start springing up, eager to siphon off some creative juice from such an original piece of art. Fortunately, the first one out of the gate to get a taste of the action was My Secret Identity star, Jerry O’Connell, who opened a performance art installation right next door to Shia.
A massive crowd formed, eager to get a glimpse at what their hero had in store for them. Literally, the line was almost all the way to the next storefront. I counted at least fifteen people. It hit twenty at its peak. It was overwhelming, much like Jerry O’Connell’s performance in Kangaroo Jack.
The line for Shia LeBeouf obviously took a massive hit because of Jerry’s presence next door. The only remaining visitors to Shia’s installation were nobodies, tourists, normal people, fatties, and Time magazine writer Joel Stein. I couldn’t be bothered.
There was a real excitement in the air. Everyone was getting into the spirit of things. Especially this guy, who thought to do his own art project on the sidewalk. Thanks to his ingenuity and me being complicit with his attention-seeking, he is now famous. What a paradox. Really makes you think, eh?
As I made my way through the door, a palpable sense of dread overtook me. What could be in store? Surely, I would be learning something about myself, and connecting with a human being in a very real way. I’d definitely cry. He’d definitely cry.
Shia LaBeouf Is Currently Doing Some Kind of Super Artsy Thing in Los Angeles
As you’ve probably heard by now, Actor, director, and mirror to our tortured souls, Shia LaBeouf is doing some sort of performance art thing in Los Angeles.
The exhibition/performance/whatever is called #IAMSORRY and is being held at 7354 Beverly Blvd until Sunday.
I headed down to check it out.
I arrived expecting a huge line, but there was none. Just one other guy and a security guard. The guard told me that I was the 75th person to see the exhibit, and that I had to go in alone, “because we don’t want anyone else to ruin your experience.”
After about five minutes of waiting, the security guy gave me the once over with a metal detector, and I was allowed inside.
I ended up in a room with a bunch of objects laid out on a table. I managed to sneak a photo.
There was a ukelele, a bottle of Jack Daniels, a bowl containing print-outs of mean tweets about Shia, a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses, a bottle of Brut cologne, a copy of The Death Rayby Daniel Clowes, an Optimus Prime action figure, some pliers and a whip.
A woman told me to choose an object. I picked up the bowl of mean tweets about Shia.
A copy of the press release for whatever this thing is.
Bowl in hand, the woman led me through a curtain and into a small room.
Shia was sitting at a small wooden table in the center of the space. He was wearing a suit and the “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE" bag that he had on his head in Berlin.
The woman left, and it was just me and Shia. I didn’t sneak a photo of him, out of respect for his art (JK, I chickened out.)
I sat down opposite him. As far as I could tell, I wasn’t being filmed and nobody was listening in.
After sitting there for a few seconds with Shia staring at me in silence, I said, “So you’re not gonna talk, huh?” He didn’t respond.
Los Angeles Is Miserable: An Introduction
The second decade of the 21st century might be remembered as a golden age for the city of Los Angeles. In the past five years, America’s second largest metropolis has seenrecord-low crime rates, a slow-and-steady expansion of mass transit options, a rapidly gentrifying urban center that some are calling the “next great American city,” and two NBA championships for our beloved Lakers. Yet a large portion of the city is still totally depressed like it’s 1992 all over again. All those pretty winter landscapes you see on Instagram are actually a sign that 2013 was California’s driest year in recorded history, and that we’ll all be brushing our teeth with toilet water if it doesn’t rain soon. Sure, crime is down and downtown has a bunch of fancy new hotels, but a few blocks from those hotels is the biggest homeless encampment in the nation—Skid Row.
A private, independent commission endorsed by former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa calledLA2020 recently released a controversial report claiming that almost 40 percent of citizens in Los Angeles currently live in “misery.” What qualifies as misery? The report says that poverty and lack of access to necessary services does the trick. It takes only a cursory glance around in any direction, on any street in this city to see the truth of that statistic. Forty percent is a major chunk of a city that boasts a population of over 4 million people—plus neverending suburban sprawl—but the number of people who live in misery in LA is probably even greater than that.
Charles Bukowski Wouldn’t Have Gotten Drunk at a Bukowski-Themed Bar
Charles Bukowski was a drunk. Not just a drunk, but the drunk. Nearly two decades after his death, he remains the patron saint of drunks. That being the case, naming a bar after him makes sense. It’s been done, many times, before: New York City, Glasgow, Boston and Amsterdam all possess watering hole homages to the alpha male author. Santa Monica’s week-old Barkowski can now be added to that list.
The deification of Bukowski, and other tortured, inebriated artists of his ilk, is a task best undertaken by those who have not experienced actual suffering. There is no better place to find said demographic than Santa Monica, California, a bourgeoisie beachside burg more well-known for its outdoor shopping mall than its self-destructive poet population. According to Barkowski’s website, its namesake’s “writing was influenced by the social, cultural and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles.” Santa Monica is not Los Angeles. Los Angeles, or at least Bukowski’s Los Angeles, is where you go when you want to drink $3 draft beers surrounded by human detritus. Santa Monica, however, is where you go when you want to pay $9 for a poorly poured, half-filled glass of Chimay. Barkowski sells poorly poured, half-filled $9 glasses of Chimay.
Barkowski’s interior is essentially the same as that of its predecessor, the Air Conditioned Lounge; nothing has been done to alter its nondescriptly modern black and red color scheme and padded leather walls. Enormous glamour shots of Buk’ drinking and gazing into the distance, alongside framed printouts of trite quotes about women and incarceration, are the only things that differentiate the new bar from the old. In one photo, he’s shown cradling a Schlitz tall boy; in the interest of synergy, Schlitz tall boys are available at the bar. For $7. If Schlitzes were $7 in Bukowski’s day, he wouldn’t have been able to afford a drinking problem, and Barkowski would have a decidedly different theme (“Papa y Beer Hemingway’s,” perhaps?). When it came to preserving the authenticity of the Bukowski theme, $7 Schlitzes and the “A” health rating sign hanging above the bar were but two of a myriad inaccuracies.
I Spent a Day Exploring Gwyneth Paltrow’s Los Angeles
Early last week, owner of a cursed vagina and mother of Gwyneth Paltrow, Blythe Danner, said that she felt criticism of her daughter was unfair and fueled by jealousy. Speaking to something called Naughty But Nice Rob, Blythe said, “I feel she’s just extraordinarily accomplished in every area and people don’t like that, some people don’t like that, people who are bored and sit on their asses all day and just tap away. I mean I don’t read any of it, I just find it so disgusting.”
My gut feeling was that Blythe’s words were bullshit, and any animosity toward Gwyneth is justified. But I couldn’t think of any specific reasons that I disliked her.
As Einstein or Shakespeare or someone once said, “don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.” So, in order to better understand Gwyneth and whether or not my feelings of pure hatred toward her were warranted or not, I decided to spend a day walking in hers. Not literally, obviously. A pair of her shoes probably costs more than I will spend on clothing over the course of my entire life.
Luckily, Gwyneth recently launched something called the Goop City Guides app. Goop, for the unfamiliar, is a lifestyle brand Gwyneth made, seemingly with the intention of rubbing her own charmed existence into the face of anyone who signed up for her weekly mailing lists in the hopes that it would be ridiculous enough to be funny. It never is.
The most recent edition to the Goop empire is the app, which lists all of Gwyn’s favorite spots in Los Angeles, London, and New York. As I’m currently in Los Angeles, I decided to see what she’d recommended here.
The LA section of the app has an introductory video, narrated by Gwyneth, welcoming you to Los Angeles, a place she refers to as, “the city of my birth, the city I always return to and will forever hold a special place in my heart.” As she says this, we see dreamy, sun-bleached shots of the palm trees, florists and markets that populate Gwyneth’s Los Angeles, and none of the homeless people, garbage, and wall-poops that populate mine and everybody else’s.
Eat Meat with Your Hands Like God Intended
One of the most eagerly anticipated culinary events of the year in Los Angeles is Beefsteak. Organized by Tim & Eric's Eric Wareheim, Cort Cass, and Matt Selman, Beefsteak is a throwback to all-you-can-eat soirees from the 19th century. Men from all walks of life would gather in a beer hall or other large event space to consume massive amounts of beef, drink beer, and carouse.
The tradition fell out of favor in the middle of the last century, but Wareheim and company (along with noted chef Neal Fraser of Grace and BLD fame) sought to revive the practice for the modern era, while adding an element of philanthropy. All proceeds from the invite-only event go to the LA Food Bank, which seeks to end hunger in the Los Angeles area.
We assembled early for cocktails at the venue, Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles. We were greeted by a genial balloon maker who promised to make me a hat in the shape of a cow. The cow is, of course, the animal the Lord commanded us to eat with great joy and gratitude. I wasn’t sure about this balloon maker’s credentials, but fortunately, I came to see that I was in good hands.
Exploring the Depressing House of Michael Jackson’s Disgraced Dermatologist
Having visited a handful of them (and never, mind you, under positive circumstances), I can confidently state that the homes of Hollywood’s countless hangers-on are all the same. The following ratio, seemingly without exception, dictates the dispersion of their possessions: 60% sun-bleached photos of them with former celebrities, usually dating from the 1980s and 1990s; 10% formerly modern furniture, usually dating from the 1980s and 1990s; 10% formerly modern art, usually created by equally sycophantic succubi like Andy Warhol and David LaChapelle in the 1980s and 1990s; and 20% what can kindly be described as “complete and utter fucking garbage,” usually acquired in the late 1990s (what I like to call the “wild card.”)
The wares currently being peddled at the bankruptcy-forced estate sale of Dr. Arnold Klein, much-maligned former dermatologist to the stars, are no exception to this rule.
In happier times, Liz Taylor, Cher, Dolly Parton, Lady Gaga and, rather infamously, Michael Jackson were regulars at his Beverly Hills practice; a solid decade of lawsuits, criminal investigations, and embarrassing press appearances, however, have irreparably tarnished the legacy of the man once hailed as the “Father of Botox.” Miscellaneous effects from the estate of the good bad doctor, infamous enough to have his own “Saga” page on TMZ’s website, are shamelessly being hawked in his seized Hancock Park mansion through Saturday.
In order to enter the house, which is currently in shambles and in escrow (its listing describes it as a “rare yet tarnished treasure”), I had to sign a waiver. The company putting on the sale (probably rightfully) feared I’d fall into a gaping, construction-related hole and decide to get litigious. I understand their desire to cover their own asses; those unfortunate enough to still be affiliated with Klein already have enough problems.
Inside LA’s Least Sexy Sex Club
In operation for the past eight months, members-only Los Angeles club Sanctum likes to declaire itself “LA’s #1 erotic experience.” The proprietors of the club created what is ostensibly a moveable feast of fucking for rich men and women who want to explore group sex, fetishes, and garden-variety voyeurism ala Eyes Wide Shut. They offer “invitation-only private parties at various clandestine venues in Los Angeles,” and charge a $2,500 membership fee to visit their LA events.
Male attendees must wear a tuxedo and women, “lingerie or tasteful evening wear,” plus masks all around. The club’s website mysteriously adds, “We are fully out in the open, certainly—but we still harbor secrets.” These claims of sophistication and intrigue seemed incongruous with the reality of what sounded like a pretty standard orgy, so I decided to check out Sanctum to see if it lived up to their hyperbole.
According to its strict set of rules, Sanctum requires aspiring members to submit their photos via email before they are approved to join or attend. “Beautiful single ladies can enter the club on our guest list” (after submitting full-length photos). Even the most privileged men don’t get that luxury.