Next up on the LA Interviews, our friend Martha, who made the move west from New York a few years back. We’ve known Martha since our days in DC via a somewhat JJ-Abrams-esque Venn diagram with uncountable crossover points between her alma mater—Vassar—and ours—James Madison. Trying to figure out who knew who when and first is like…well, deconstructing the last season of Lost. Read on to get Martha’s take on favorite beaches in LA, where to go to for cemetery dance parties, and how crazy it was to see the space shuttle drive by at one mile an hour.
What do you do in LA?
I’m a Digital Media Exec at Warner Bros. Sometimes I talk about movies all day, sometimes I talk about the business of movies. Usually, it’s combination of both!
How long have you lived there?
Three years this month!
What do you like most about LA?
The weather, the people, the space, the palm trees, the culture (yes, I said culture), the food, the landscape, the architecture, having the option of a beach, mountain, or desert a short drive away. I like that, despite it’s limitations of being such a big city that’s a slave to the car, there is a movement of people who are trying to make LA a bikeable city. Not an easy feat but they are doing it.
What do you think is most lacking in LA?
Walkable neighborhoods, bike lanes, public transportation.
Does it suck to have to drive EVERYWHERE‽
It’s not too bad..but I like to drive so I might be in the minority. Plus, what happens is you end up hanging out in your neighborhood so you don’t drive as much. On the plus side, you don’t drink as much either.
Where do you live in LA?
How would you describe the neighborhood?
Beautiful houses, hip looking people, the hills, the Silver Lake reservoir, home.
Most memorable, life-altering, fucked up, or just funny experience to date in LA?
This is a hard one to answer…I know I have all of the above but I’m drawing a blank. So I’ll just say the following. Seeing the Space Shuttle Endeavor driven through the streets of LA at 1 mile an hour and the various LA communities; black, white, Mexican, rich, poor gathered along the streets waiting to see it drive by. Seeing the Levitated Mass—the large rock that’s at LACMA—driven through the streets of LA at 1 mile per hour. Participating in CicLAvia, which is what I call “my favorite day in LA”. It’s basically when a section of LA is car-free for a few hours and people can bike, rollerskate, walk the streets. I’ve never seen people so happy to be outside.
Best celebrity sighting you’ve had (and where)?
Hanging out at the beach next to Ben McKenzie of OC fame. What made this so memorable is that he was ditched by the girl he was with. She said she was going to the bathroom and left for at least 45 mins. It was obvs he was very confused and when she came back she didn’t apologize or answer his question. Very strange. And yes—I was that close that I could overhear him.
That’s pretty good.
Not totally vegan restaurant?
Bestia—everything’s good there. Impossible for me to pick just one thing.
Sage Organic Vegan Bistro—Quinoa Corn Cakes as a starter, Brazilian Bowl for your entree.
Taco place in town?
Guisados. Not sure if they serve vegan tacos, but their taco sampler is as good as anything you’ll find in Mexico. Gets my Mexican seal of approval.
Thirsty Crow. Have the Thirsty Crow.
LACMA—permanent exhibit, Urban Light, rotating exhibits;
Getty Center—hang outside;
Museum of Jurassic Technology—museum of all things bizarre—it’s a small place; you’ll be out in two hours but worth a visit;
and I recently went to the Grammy Museum and I didn’t hate it…it was actually kind of interesting to learn about the music industry.
Arclight Hollywood. At first it may seem like just a movie theater but there more you go, the more you realize it’s special. It has assigned seating, ample room, a bar, a store, a coffee shop, and plenty of celeb sightings; an usher introduces the movie and people clap at the end. It’s just a pleasurable way to see a movie. Seeing a movie in the dome of the Arclight is also fun.
In the summer, see a movie at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It’s quite the LA experience. My favorite time there was seeing Labrynth followed by a David Bowie dance party…in the cemetery. It was very fun.
This isn’t a movie theater, but would like to add see something at the Hollywood Bowl. Whether it’s a concert or a movie accompanied by a live symphony, it’s a special LA experience. I mean, it’s featured in the beginning of Beaches when Bette Midler’s character, CC Bloom, is rehearsing and she gets a call that her best friend Hillary is dying! Tear…
Boutiques in Silver Lake for gifts; Beverly Center for my mall shopping.
I’m not a big hiker but I do have a soft spot for Runyon Canyon. It’s more people-watching, dog-watching; less about trees. You’ll get beautiful views of LA. It’s also a short hike and it’s in the center of town.
And this is not a hike, but I highly recommend hanging out at Barnsdall Park in Los Feliz. It’s a hidden gem that has wine tastings, film screenings, an art gallery, and beautiful views of LA.
Song, movie, or show that best captures LA?
Song: “California Paradise” by The Runaways or “LA Freeway” by Guy Clark;
Movie: LA Story, Beginners, Laurel Canyon, Clueless;
Show: The OC, The L Word, Up All Night, New Girl.
Tourist trap that’s worth the trappings?
A movie at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre—plus, the footprints and handprints of famous celebrities are out front. Everyone needs to see if their hands and feet are as big as George Clooney’s;
Biking Venice Beach—you just have to;
Watts Towers—not really a tourist trap but worth a visit;
Drink at Chateau Marmont—because you’re in Hollywood, so why not see how the other half lives.
Thoughts on the whole inescapable retro, mid-century aesthetic in LA?
The mid-century aesthetic started in LA, or at least was embraced by the city…in the mid-century! It’s part of the look that defines the city. It will continue to be woven into the city’s makeup even after the rest of the world has moved on to some other furniture trend. I think LA is a good place to come and see the origins of it and appreciate it in it’s “natural state.” LA is the mid-century OG.
Advice to those considering making the move?
It will be a tough adjustment but for anyone that’s willing to take a chance, it will be worth it. The hardest part will be getting used to the driving. Get a car that has a good stereo system and definitely get bluetooth! The future is now. And don’t hold your phone, people – it’s illegal to even have it in your hand! With a car, you’ll love how awesome it feels to go grocery shopping and be able to put bags and bags of groceries…in your trunk! No more shopping based on what you can carry on you.
The definition of community is very different. Because people are so spread out, it’s harder to feel like you can walk out of your house and will run into someone or can just walk over to the local bar. You have to make more of commitment to see people while simultaneously accepting that people can be…I don’t want to say flaky…lax about making a solid plan. So learn to be patient…also accept that you’ll eventually become one of them.
If and when you decide to make the move, I recommend Flat Rate Moving for shipping your things. Great experience.
Finally—not that this is a bi-coastal battle of the metropolises…but, kinda, it is—what would you say to all the LA-haters in NYC?
LA is misunderstood. There is a misconception that LA is full of vapid people who only want to work in entertainment. Instead, what i’ve found is a city full of incredibly smart and driven people who work in a variety of industries. These same people value their careers but have a work life balance. I think the weather helps. LA is full of creative people. There is a reason why people move here. Musicians like Fleetwood Mac started here; Joan Didion has written elegant and beautiful stories about this city; Jeffrey Deitch has worked hard to make LA an arts mecca; and even in fashion, Rodarte was started here by the Mulleavey sisters. I really believe that LA is in the midst of experiencing a kind of renaissance and it’s an exciting time to be living here.
New Yorkers think that you have to drive everywhere and you’ll still never never find anything good or interesting. I recommend they visit someone they know. Because a culinary gem will be hidden in a strip mall and only a local would know about it. Culturally, LA has so many nationalities. Every night I have my choice of legit Mexican, Persian, or head to San Gabriel Valley where I can have my pick of any Asian cuisine. I can get a Thai massage, Chinese foot massage, or head to a Korean spa for as low as $15.
No city, especially LA, can be compared to New York, so why try? Nothing is like New York, because New York is the best city in the world. But LA has a lot to offer in it’s own unique way, and it’s a great city in it’s own right.