LA news and midterm elections

As well as following the news in the New York Times, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, TIME magazine, etc, I subscribe to online newsletters to find out what is happening in Los Angeles every week.

Downtown Los Angeles (c) 1983

It’s great that LAist is finally back, after being shut down by its owner last November.  Curbed LA is geared to real-estate news, but has other info as well, Los Angeles Magazine sends a daily update about the best things to do in LA. The once reliable LA Weekly has unfortunately been bought by consortium of investors and most of their staff fired. My favorite news source is Cultural Weekly, since I’m a regular contributor. Click here for my articles.

Disney Hall (c) 2015

It was particularly useful to consult these local publications for guidance on how to vote in the November 6 elections. On October 24 the NPR radio station KCRW sent short videos explaining some of the propositions. I posted it on Nextdoor. On November 5 Curbed LA sent an updated 2018 Los Angeles voter guide, LAist emailed a Voter game plan.

MOCA (c) 1987

On November 7, by 6am, I read editorials such as President hits his limits in the Los Angeles Times, which has improved their coverage since the newspaper was purchased by Chinese doctor Patrick Soon-Shiong. I read in TIME magazine How Women Candidates Changed American Politics in 2018, and in the Daily Good First Muslim and Native American Women elected to Congress.

Union Station (c) 1986

As Stephen Colbert put it in his live election coverage: “The Democrats have taken control of half of one of the three branches of government. All the G.O.P. has is the other half of Congress, the Supreme Court and a president who does whatever he wants.”

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Getty Villa and Getty Museum

There has been renewed interest recently in the life of John Paul Getty. It was explored in the movie All the Money in the World, where director Ridley Scott decided to remove the performance of Kevin Spacey to replace him with Christopher Plummer. Then Donald Sutherland played him with gusto in the FX-TV series Trust. The actor said: “Getty didn’t use power in an aggressive way, he wasn’t a bully, he was very pragmatic, extraordinarily well organized and brilliant.”

Getty Villa, photo by Elisa Leonelli 1982

Despite the character flaws of this wealthy man, he created something wonderful that ensures his legacy as an art collector, the Getty Villa. Built in 1976 and modeled after the Roman Villa dei Papyri in Ercolano, Italy, this lovely museum houses antiquities of Roman and Greek art.

The Beauty of Palmyra AD 190-210

I visited the Villa many times through the years, always proudly showing it off to out-of-town visitors. I was there again a couple of weeks ago for a media appreciation event. What I found particularly poignant was the room devoted to sculptures, drawings and photos from the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria, because some of the temples were destroyed by ISIL in 2015.

Perfection in Black, by Edward Steichen © Condé Nast 1935

I remember how exciting it was when The Getty Trust built the Getty Center, that opened in 1997. I visit it regularly, when there’s a photo exhibit of interest. Click here to read my article about Robert Mapplethorpe. The current show, Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, 1911-2011, is amazing. It includes not only photos by Richard Avedon, Edward Steichen and many others, but a few actual gowns by famous designers, such as Coco Chanel and Christian Dior.

The New Look of Dior © Richard Avedon 1947

We are very lucky to have such world-class museums in Los Angeles. Thank you J. Paul Getty!

Text by Elisa Leonelli

Neighborhood Bookstore

We learnt from residents posting on Nextdoor that a bookstore opened in our neighborhood, which is exciting news, so we went to check it out.
Sideshow Books, a store of used and rare books that for 11 years was located on Idaho Ave, near the Nuart movie theater, has recently moved to 1639 S La Cienega Blvd just north of Airdrome St.

Sideshow Books

Owner Tony Jacobs told me that their previous place was too small, they had so many books that they needed more space for their large inventory. This new location is spacious and brightly lit by two big skylights. Tony is concerned that many people throw books away now, and they are not being reprinted, so they will disappear. Used bookstores are an essential part of the chain of life for books and they are dying out now because of the price of real estate. His mission is to preserve and promote book culture, the goal directed at younger people is to make books cool again, he hopes customers will come into his store and discover books they didn’t expect to find.

Tony Jacobs, Sideshow Books

It’s not just old books that Tony wishes to preserve, but also the appreciation for classic old movies. He teamed up with film scholar Tom Newth to show a series of Hollywood’s sleepers, like All Through the Night (1942) with Humphrey Bogart, and Italian suspense films (gialli) like Mario Bava’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963).
The movies are projected on the wall from a laptop in the funky back patio of the bookstore on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8.30pm. Call for program: 310-428-4631

If you love books, please support this local bookstore, and visit The Last Bookstore downtown, located at 433 S Spring St, in an amazing building from 1914 that used to be a bank.
Read Ray Bradbury’s 1953 classic novel Farenheit 451, about a future totalitarian society where books are outlawed and burnt. Francois Truffaut directed a film version in 1966, it was recently remade into a TV movie for HBO. Look up my article about Ray Bradbury in Cultural Weekly.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Garage conversion to ADU

When I received a notice in the mail about a LA City hearing (scheduled for July 5), I read it carefully, and wondered why residents within a 500 feet radius had to be notified, about a construction permit for a home in Reynier Village.  I asked Liz Carlin for advice.

2630 Bedford St

I knew that on September 26, 2016 Governor Brown signed ordinance AB 2299 and SB 1069 about ADUs, Accessory Dwelling Units, that took effect on January 1, 2017.  A ADU, also known as a “granny flat” or “backyard home”, is a permanent second unit with a full kitchen and bathroom, that can be used as a rental, on the same lot as the primary single family residence. In Los Angeles, 2,342 secondary units were permitted in 2017, up from 120 in 2016.
Read this article in the Los Angeles Times and this article in LA Curbed

Find out how to submit a site plan application for a ADU on this website of LA County Dept of Planning. Study the Interim memo at this link.
Click here for the May 22 update that will take effect later in 2018.
For information about your property, visit West LA’s DSC (Development Services Center) at 1828 Sawtelle Blvd. LA 90025. Tel: 310-231 2901

The ordinance stipulates that a ADU in rear or side yards cannot exceed 50% of the primary house square footage, to a maximum of 1200 SqFt. So our clever homeowner on Bedford St asks to have the main house, which is 875 feet, converted to a ADU, so they may build a structure twice the size behind it, 1,707 SqFt, in place of the current studio of 544 SqFt.  The garage would have to also be demolished and rebuilt bigger, because 2 off-street parking spaces are still a requirement for every home, however an ADU does not require additional parking, if it’s within half a mile of public transportation.
See more photos of 2630 Bedford St at this webpage

2600 Bedford St

Around the corner on Beverlywood St, in the backyard of 2600 Bedford St, a two story structure is being built to replace the old garage. No City hearing was needed for this construction. The contractor name is Arbib Construction: 800-222 4743.

More homeowners in Reynier Village are likely studying how to follow suit, to increase the value of their property, earn rental income.
RVNA (Reynier Village Neighborhood Association), SORONC (South Robertson Neighborhood Council) Land Use Committee, and District 10 Councilman Herb Wesson, will have to monitor the situation, so the increased density won’t affect the quality of life, and the already scarce parking in our lovely “Village.”

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Eat Vegetarian

On Mother’s Day we tried OOAK, the new Asian Vegetarian restaurant in Culver City. We had pumpkin soup and shaking beef (actually mushrooms). The Cantonese food and the service were excellent. I asked for the meaning of the word OOAK. It’s an Internet acronym for “One Of A Kind.”

OOAK, Culver City

This made me reflect on the advantages of a vegetarian diet, that has been popular in the West since the counterculture 60s. That means eliminating any meat (beef, lamb, pork, veal, chicken) or fish from your food intake, eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. When fish and seafood are allowed, that is a pescetarian diet; when eggs and dairy products are included, that is called ovo-lacto vegetarian. No animals are killed when eggs and milk are produced, however, fish are killed for us to eat them, and, as a friend of mine says: “I don’t eat anything that had eyes.” The Macrobiotic diet, inspired by Zen Buddhism, allows fish.

OOAK, Culver City

A vegetarian diet is sometimes chosen for ethical reasons, “do not kill living beings,” even though arguably plants are living as well; but it is also beneficial to your health, reducing animal fat, proven to cause cancer, high-blood pressure, and other diseases.
During the past few years a vegan diet has been promoted as even healthier; that means no animal products at all, no eggs, no cheese, no milk, no yogurt. But often, in order to simulate the taste of meat and cheese, soy products and other substitutes are used.
Even more extreme is a diet of raw food. In addition to no meat or animal products, there’s no cooking, as the heat removes some enzymes from vegetables.

MAKE OUT, Culver City

For me eating meals of fresh fruit, salads and steamed vegetables, cooked lentils and beans, feels healthy, but it’s not a religion. I believe in what novelist Barbara Kingsolver says in her 2007 non-fiction book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, that eating grass-fed beef and organic chicken is okay, and environmentally responsible. Reading that book was eye-opening, and it set me on a path of healthier eating. I love making blended vegan soups with a variety of cooked vegetables and spices. For more on this subject, you may read my article Souping for Health in Cultural Weekly.

MAKE OUT, Culver City.

See below some Westside restaurants that offer vegan, vegetarian or raw food.

SAGE, Culver City

Among the fast food chains, I like Veggie Grill, inexpensive and tasty. Recently I tried Daily Harvest, a vegan food delivery service of fruits smoothies, cooked vegetable soups and legumes.  I really liked it.

SAGE, Culver City

Of course, you are able to make vegetarian food choices at most restaurants; just eat salads, vegetable dishes and legumes. Indian, Thai, Chinese cuisines have delicious vegetarian specialties. My favorites are Szechuan eggplant and Baingan bharta (mashed eggplant).

SAGE, Culver City

OOAK. Asian Vegetarian Cuisine
9540 Washington Blvd, Culver City

SAGE. Plant Based Bistro
4130 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City

MAKE OUT. Raw food
9426 Washington Blvd, Culver City

VEGAN JOINT. Since 2006
10438 National Blvd, LA 90034

ANNAPURNA. South Indian vegetarian
10200 Venice Blvd, Culver City

INDIA SWEETS & SPICES. Indian vegetarian, since 1986
9409 Venice Blvd, Culver City

REAL FOOD DAILY. Organic plant-based
414 N La Cienega Blvd. LA 90048

GRACIAS MADRE. Mexican Vegan
8905 Melrose Ave. West Hollywood

Text and Photos by Elisa Leonelli

Terra opens at Eataly

Terra, the new rooftop restaurant at Eataly in Century City, opens Thursday March 29 at 5pm. They will only serve dinner at first, until 11 pm, later also lunch.
The word Terra in Italian means Earth, soil.

Terra terrace, iPhone photo by Elisa Leonelli

As you enter this 11,000 square feet indoor and outdoor space, the first thing you see is the huge wood burning grill. Nicola, the son of Eataly’s founder Oscar Farinetti, explains that the concept was to have a fire pit in the middle of a restaurant. Their specialties are grilled meats (beef, pork, lamb) and vegetables (artichokes, asparagus, beets, carrots, zucchini). There are also pasta dishes, of course, and fish.

Terra grill, photo by Elizabeth Daniels

The large terrace with cushioned seating has a wooden Botanica Bar serving gin drinks. A variety of gins are imported from Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Hawaii, Scotland, and other places. A tasty snack is arrosticini, a typical dish from the Italian region of Abruzzi, skewers of grilled beef, pork and mutton. An herb garden is also on the terrace, as well as a covered seating area for dining.

Terra Bar Botanico, photo by Elizabeth Daniels

Dulcis in fundo, a cart of ice cream is passed around at the end of the meal, only one flavor, fior di latte, with various toppings.
Appetizers, small plates, vegetables and salads are priced from $8 to $19. Pastas from $19 to $23. Main courses from $28 to $42.

grilled beef, iPhone photo by Elisa Leonelli

There is valet parking on Avenue of the Stars, just South of Santa Monica Blvd, and an elevator that zips you up to the 5th floor restaurant. Eating at Terra will definitely a pleasurable luxury experience for those who can afford it.

You may read in Cultural Weekly my articles about Eataly’s opening last November, and about a tortellini-making class at Eataly’s Cooking School this January.

Pasta Sisters in Culver City

Pasta Sisters finally opened on Sunday March 4, at Helms Bakery in Culver City, and it was worth the wait. It was an exciting experience to be there on their first day.

Pasta Sisters, Helms

My family and friends became fans of their storefront takeout place at Pico and Arlington, as soon as they opened, three years ago. We especially love their lasagne and eggplant parmesan.

Pasta Sisters patio

Now that they have a nearby restaurant with two outdoor patios, we will be able to enjoy their delicious food comfortably seated. The menu was expanded from their signature fresh pasta dishes, with the addition of several items, including beef stew and polenta (spezzatino con polenta Valsugana), a specialty of Padova, the Italian city in the Veneto region where the sisters are from.

Paola Da Re

Paola and her sisters Luisa and Patrizia learnt to cook from their mother Maria Giovanna. Paola is the chef, son Francesco, daughters Giorgia and Francesca help her run the family business. Paola credits the enthusiasm of their 40 employees and the optimism of her children for the successful opening of their new venture.


On my first day I tried panzerotti, an appetizer I never tasted before, fried dough with two different hot stuffings, spinach and ricotta cheese, Italian cooked ham and mozzarella. They were amazing. I look forward to going back many more times and trying all of their dishes.

Giorgia, Francesca

For more info on where to find authentic Italian food in Los Angeles, or prepare it yourself, you may read my articles in Cultural Weekly
Italian Bread, Modena style
Fresh pasta, Modena-style

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Pasta Sisters staff