weekender in LA: good as gold

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If you’ve ever read food writing in or about any city other than Los Angeles, then you’ve probably never truly experienced how transcendent and indispensable the Counter Intelligence column was to food and culture…and to life in Los Angeles.  Its author was a king in the food world, imparting a Midas touch on any eatery he liked, no exaggeration, as his name was appropriately, Jonathan Gold.

(That was my piss poor attempt to write second person as he did so well).

As a lifelong Southern Californian, hearing about Mr. Gold’s sudden passing was heartbreaking.  You can’t really know how pervasive and revered his opinion was unless you lived and breathed and ate what he ate.  He ate, and ate…real food.

He believed that it was the stick to your soul, sizzling off the wok, fatty soup belly that creates the indelible memories and experiences of a grand food life lived.  And of course, he was right!  Jonathan Gold was the one who would gently steer you in this direction, showing you the light, making things that seemed inaccessible or scary become familiar and expected.

Mr. Gold brought to the masses what all children of immigrants in SoCal have known for years…that the best meals happen in somewhat shabby strip malls, in the sticky dining rooms of mom and pop shops — often times with no white linen table cloths in sight.  Although he wasn’t that discerning, there was a time and place for those experiences, too.  He taught us that all types of cuisine, and on a larger scale, all types of people could and should be celebrated.

He was a champion of the unadorned, the unpretentious, whilst peppering his reviews with esoteric references that elevated the intelligence of his reader.  Only a true master of his craft could achieve such a feat.  And he was recognized for it, having been the only food critic to receive a Pulitzer Prize for food writing.

He was a legend in a city of stars.  Undoubtedly, one of its most influential characters; after all, it was often his opinion that brought everyone to the table.

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weekender in LA: the sequel

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Living so close to LA, I feel privileged to be able to enjoy the culture and attractions of la la land without having to actually live there.  I get it, you really have to let the place grow on you and you have to be patient.  Let it in.

My friends from the midwest dislike visiting LA a lot.  Like a lot, a lot.  It’s because it’s so hard to get from point A to point B, and near impossible if you want to cross town to do anything.  But…you can get a ton done if you plan things out well (yes I’m a nerd, but we get the job done).

Here’s another itinerary for an LA weekender

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know before you go: Los Angeles (LAX)

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I have often called LAX the eighth portal of hell, and I mean it.  There is no worse pain than landing at LAX on a Friday afternoon/night.  Well, maybe there is if you’re Chrissy Teigen and John Legend.  Y’all need to stop what you’re doing right now and read about their 8 hour flight from LAX to LAX due to a passenger snafu last night.  I would die.

Anyway, if you’re flying into LA, hope you didn’t make any plans because you’ll be stuck for an hour before you can even reach Century or Sepulveda Blvds.  It has one of the worst traffic flow designs of any place that is allegedly supposed to serve that many people.  Like the architect deliberately thought, how can we purposely make it so there’s only one route out that bottlenecks like crazy?

Even though it one of the worse places on this planet (you think I’m exaggerating.  I am not), it’s a necessary evil that has to be dealt with because you can fly almost anywhere from there.  One of the busiest airports by volume, if you’ve flown internationally from SoCal, you’ve likely flown out of LAX.  It is the second busiest airport in the US by passenger load, and maybe for this week it is a little better than the busier ATL (at least there’s power).

There are 8 numbered terminals separate from the Tom Bradley International terminal.  1= Southwest; 2 = Delta and SkyTeam members: Aer Lingus, WestJet, Virgin, Aeromexico.  3 = Delta, Copa, Avianca, Interjet; 4 = American 5 = American, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Allegiant, Frontier, Spirit, Sun Country. 6 = Alaska, Virgin America, Air Canada, Mokulele, Great Lakes. 7 and 8 = United.  There are random exceptions in terms of check in counters for some of the international carriers of the codeshare alliances, but all international flights return to Tom Bradley (TBIT).

I will give it one thing though, there’s some good shopping there, particularly duty free.  And if you’re uber wealthy, there are separate luxury lounges that are not connected to the terminals where you can get checked in and taken to your plane by SUV.  There could be more restaurants, as the selection is dispersed sparingly amongst the terminals.

Remember: ✈️ = welcome to the jungle to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = i love LA (we love it)

Convenience to the city: ✈️  (theoretically it is, practically it is not; may the odds be ever in your favor if you’re flying in during peak hours, rideshares help but it takes awhile)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️  (you’re at the mercy of shuttle buses on the tarmac that wind passengers around planes from terminal to terminal)

Convenience of check in/security lines: ✈️✈️ ✈️ (fairly efficient for its size)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️ (three planes because the eateries are good, but limited in each terminal, so there’s not that many given options.  But…you should look for Ink.sack by Michael Voltaggio in TBIT, La Brea Bakery in Terminal 1, lots of Coffee Beans and Starbucks as well as local coffee shops around; Pinkberry locations, Panda Expresses, Shake Shack in terminal 3, Wolfgang Puck eateries in 6, the Habit and Wahoo’s fish tacos in 6; LA’s hipcute cafeteria Lemonade in 5, Umami Burger, 800 Degrees Pizza, SlapFish, etc)

Bathrooms: ✈️  (don’t expect them to be that clean unless you’re in a recently renovated terminal)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️  (no free wifi, which makes complete sense)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️ (every lounge ever (including a luxe Qantas), retail from bliss spa, Spanx to Burberry, Gucci, Hermes, Harley Davidson — wish there were more options per terminal, but hey real estate is a premium here.  I took one plane off because the Sanrio store closed.  Also, don’t forget to check out the spacey Theme Building on arrival, home of the former Encounters restaurant (wasn’t actually that bad food wise) but now is a viewing deck on the weekends)

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know before you go: Long Beach (LGB)

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As we start traveling for the holidays, I have to shout out to one of my home airports.  Ah Long Beach, a lovely little secret.  I like flying into this tiny regional airport.  It’s no frills, quick, easy and it makes you feel like you’re in the 60s or something because you go out directly onto the tarmac when you come and go.

LGB is a hub for JetBlue, but now Southwest even has some flights out of here. There a couple of regional Delta and American flights as well. It’s one small terminal split into North and South concourses with 11 gates for the whole airport.  JetBlue has gates 1-5. There’s not much food, but what are you doing eating at the airport? You’re likely coming from LA/OC anyway.

Overall it’s a nice airport to get from point A to point B quickly.  The fact that you can skip LAX to get to NY and Boston from this no fuss airport is awesome and worth giving up on amenities and dining.

Remember: ✈️ = so much drama in the LBC to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = sublime

Convenience to the city: ✈️ (it’s in Long Beach, off the 405, may the odds be ever in your favor)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️✈️  (I think it takes 5 minutes from one end to the other)

Convenience of check in/security lines: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (not a lot of traffic = fast lines)

Dining: ✈️ (bring your own food)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️ (not that many of them)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️ (free wifi available)

Amenities: ✈️ (what are amenities?)

 

 

 

weekend in la la land

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Growing up in Southern California, I spent some time in Los Angeles, but never actually lived there.  So, that makes me a total tourist whenever I come to town, and I love it.

It’s sun-kissed, starry-eyed and there’s literally everything you could ever want.  There’s beaches, top education, sports, movie stars, museums, shopping, innovative food and technology.  There’s perfect weather and beautiful bodies, it’s the epitome of the glamorous life.

I love LA.  (we love it).

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know before you go: Burbank

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Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR, formerly known as Bob Hope) is the small airport that also serves the greater Los Angeles area, namely more convenient for Pasadena/Glendale/Valley area.  This is the airport you want to fly into if you’re headed to LA.  I cannot stress this enough, bypass the pit of despair that is LAX (unless of course you’re international, then of course, vaya con dios).

There are two terminals, A and B.  A serves Southwest, JetBlue and American with 9 gates and B has 5 serving Alaska, Delta and United.

There’s not much to eat here, but there is Guy Fieri Burger and a Peet’s coffee, and really what more do you need in life?

Remember:  ✈️ = bob nope ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = bob dope

Convenience to city = ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (it cannot be overstated how much easier than LAX it is)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️ (it is very small, so it’s easy)

Convenience of security lines: ✈️✈️✈️ (small = fast)

Dining: ✈️ (Peet’s, Fresco and Guy’s burgers)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️ (clean, not that many)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️ (free wi-fi, good amount of outlets)

Amenities: ✈️ (there’s usually some art or collections displayed)