Attend Pier del Sol on Sunday, October 11th in Pacific Park to Help Raise Funds for the Special Olympics

Pacific Park. Courtesy of Pier del SolAt Pier del Sol a week from Sunday, families can play carnival games, feast on a VIP brunch prepared by over 36 of the best restaurants is LA and enjoy unlimited access to rides. Entertainment includes live music, arts & crafts, live performers and karaoke. The event takes place between 10am and 2pm in Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier. “This is the largest fundraiser of the year for the Special Olympics Southern California…”

Restaurants serving brunch plates include Providence/Connie & Teds, Spago, Angelini Osteria, Fishing with Dynamite, Tanino, and Playa Provisions. Dandy Dan’s Homemade Ice Cream, which we love, and Pink’s Hot Dogs will also be participating. The Pink family should probably get some kind of award, because they are at every charity event I attend. They don’t just send the hot dogs either, they show up in person with big smiles and sparkly hot dog purses. This year, the recipient of exactly that kind of honor is Chef Alain Giraurd of Maison Giraurd, who has been with Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) and Pier del Sol since their inaugural event 19 years ago.

A VIP Ticket ($150) includes a VIP brunch ticket, unlimited rides, and 12 game tickets. Save $200 off a group of five with the VIP Coaster Package ($500), which includes 5 VIP brunch tickets, unlimited rides, and 12 game tickets each. The VIP Ticket for ages 5-12 is $50 and is available to purchase at the event only. Children under 5 free (but they will not receive game tickets). If you’re not much of a foodie, General Admission ($60) includes unlimited rides, 10 game tickets, and a meal coupon at Pacific Park’s food plaza. There is a Scoops Ice Cream in the food plaza, so that’s a big plus. Buy your tickets here.

Posted in Attractions, Events, Food, Restaurants, Upcoming Events | Leave a comment

The Legendary Smokehouse in Burbank Celebrates its Anniversary with Amazing Deals

The Smoke House restaurant in Burbank, where Jimmy performs (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

The Smoke House restaurant in Burbank, where Jimmy performs (photo by Nikki Kreuzer

The Smokehouse, across the street from Warner Brothers in Burbank, opened in 1946 at Pass and Riverside. It was so successful that in 1948 it moved to its current, larger location. The restaurant was later expanded by Wayne McCallister, who also built Bob’s Big Boy, to add a lounge and bar. Known for their juicy steaks, unique garlic bread, celebrity clientele and kitschy lounge acts, The Smokehouse is one of LA’s real treasures.

The Smokehouse celebrates its 69th anniversary with bargains throughout the entire month of October. They will offer a commemorative $19.46 menu, and classic cocktails for $6.90. Every Tuesday in October you will receive 25% off the regular menu all day long. On October 12th, The Smokehouse will have a special event for its 69th anniversary with 50% off the regular menu all day. Live music starts at 6pm, and cake and raffle prizes will start at 8pm with a champagne toast afterwards.

Posted in Food, History, Live Music, Music, Restaurants, Upcoming Events | Leave a comment

Movies Till Dawn: TV Party II

12 a.m. – “Deutschland 83” – Drama/Political Thriller

2792(2015, Kino Lorber) While waiting for the return of “The Americans” in 2016, you might enjoy this U.S.-German suspense series, which hinges on a similar premise of assumed identities and espionage set during the tail end of the Cold War. Jonas Ray is an East German teen recruited by his imperious aunt (Maria Schrader) in 1983 to funnel information on the West by assuming the identity of a dead soldier serving under Wolfgang Edel (Ulrich Noethen), a top-ranking West German general. Lured by the possibility that his participation will help facilitate a life-saving kidney transplant for his mother, Ray is soon embedded with the general’s inner circle, which grows to encompass a romance with Edel’s daughter Yvonne, who’s linked to a pacifist group, and a shared room with his gay son, while also funneling information back to his aunt; things grow further complicated and compelling over the first season’s eight episodes, which manage a fine balance of the characters’ personal dramas with then-current events and the general unease (and occasional bleak comedy) of living under the constant threat of nuclear war. Kino Lorber’s three-disc set includes English-language interviews with the cast and creators and a Q&A filmed at the Goethe-Institut in New York. Continue reading

Posted in DVDs, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper and Joe Perry Headline Supergroup “Hollywood Vampires”

sepp cooperThe lair of the original “Hollywood Vampires” lay at the top of the stairs of the Sunset Strip’s venerable Rainbow Room, in a loft where a plaque is bolted to the wall identifying those legendary rock stars, many of whom are no longer with us, who made up the “Vampires”.

The “Vampires” of the mid 1970’s included Alice Cooper, Keith Moon of the Who, Bernie Taupin, Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees, Harry Nillsson, Ringo Starr and John Lennon of this little band from Liverpool that called themselves “The Beatles”. They were not a collaboration of rock stars making music. They were a collaboration of drinkers who happened to be rock stars. They were living the Vampire life in Hollywood in the golden age of rock music in Los Angeles and the Rainbow Room was their chamber.

Continue reading

Posted in Live Music, Music, Photo Essays | Leave a comment

Fifteen By Two: The Lisa Fischer Interview

lisafischer-djenebaaduayom2014Recently I had the opportunity to ask Grammy award-winning singer, Lisa Fischer, a few questions.  Fifteen, actually. Ms. Fischer who is currently on tour with her band Grand Baton was kind enough to provide some insights into her career as both a solo artist and as a long-time member of The Rolling Stones touring band. Sometimes referred to as “the best singer you never heard of,” Lisa Fischer’s musical pairings are a veritable who’s who of the music industry, far too many to list here. She has also been the sole female member of the Rolling Stones’ touring band since 1989, known for her awe-inspiring vocals on Gimme Shelter and the interplay between her and Mick Jagger. She’s probably also one of the hardest working people in the music biz today. A few months ago when the Stones’ tour was in full-swing, Lisa managed to hop a plane between dates and fly out to gigs with her own band. She most likely did not want to disappoint her loyal fans. Ms. Fischer and her band, Grand Baton, will be appearing this Friday night at the Valley Performing Arts Center.

Is “background singer” an unflattering term to you?

Not to me. Some people prefer support vocals and the like but it’s all the same to me.

How much creative freedom are you given as a background singer?

If its new background parts that are being created in the studio, then there is a lot of creative freedom. If it’s for live shows, the groundwork has already been set, but there is still creative freedom within those lines.

Continue reading

Posted in Events, Interviews, Live Music, Music, Upcoming Events | Leave a comment

This Weekend the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival Returns to the OC

Duke Spirits Tastings (Photo Credit Pencilbox Studios)

Duke Spirits Tastings (Photo Credit Pencilbox Studios)

This weekend, Friday, October 2 – Sunday, October 4, the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival will take place featuring celebrity chefs and unlimited wine, cocktails and bites prepared by some of the best chefs in the area. Chefs making appearances include friend of the LA Beat, Brian Huskey, Brooke Williamson, my celebrity chef crush Hubert Keller, Rick Bayless, and Shirley Chung. Some of the restaurants representing are Red O, Fig & Olive, Twenty Eight, Tamarind of London, Slapfish, The Winery, and Driftwood Kitchen.

Friday night from 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. there is a special launch party and charity event to benefit Project Hope Alliance. The opening night party will be held at Oak Grill & Aqua Lounge in the Island Hotel and will feature a cocktail party, a specialty menu prepared by Oak Grill Executive Chef Marc Johnson, live music, a silent auction, and special appearances from the festival’s lineup of celebrity chefs.

Saturday and Sunday, the festivities run from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 the Newport Beach Civic Center (100 Civic Center Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660). Enjoy cooking demos, mixology courses, wine seminars, two Grand Tasting Pavilions with tastings from top restaurants, 200 high-end, boutique and cult wines, handcrafted cocktails, beer tastings, as well as live jazz. At platinum sponsor Celebrity Cruises’ booth you can enter to win a seven-day Alaskan cruise for two. I have taken an Alaskan cruise, and it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make sure to enter.

Entry into Friday night’s launch party $150, General admission for Saturday or Sunday are $150 and VIP tickets for either day are $225. Proceeds benefit Project Hope Alliance. Get your tickets here.


Posted in Beer, Cocktails, Events, Food, Live Music, Restaurants, Upcoming Events, Wine | Leave a comment

Movie Review: Winnebago Man

Before the internet even existed, there was a community of tape traders who collected and shared “found videos” and unusual clips. One of the most popular videos passed hand to hand was “Winnebago Man,” outtakes from a 1988 shoot for a Winnebago commercial featuring a spokesman who appears to be the angriest man in the world. “Winnebago Man,” who we later learn is named Jack Rebney, lets loose colorful and creative streams of expletives at the slightest provocation. Later, with the advent of YouTube, the “Winnebago Man” clips went viral, prompting filmmaker Ben Steinbauer to go in search of the mysterious man who became an internet phenomenon.

I almost stopped watching “Winnebago Man” about 10 minutes in. I didn’t find the outtakes funny. I don’t need any more anger and frustration in my life. This movie was supposed to be a comedy. I didn’t understand it any more than I understood the appeal of “Shut Up Little Man.” But the documentary started to draw me in with Steinbauer’s dogged determination to hunt down a man with no name who had disappeared into the ether 20 years before. His ability to actually find Jack Rebney, and have the man agree to be interviewed on tape is nothing less than astounding. Somewhere in the middle of the film I started laughing and didn’t stop.

Rebney was living a reclusive life as a caretaker on a mountain outside of Redding, California. The relationship that develops between the filmmaker and subject is often confusing, and even a little bit dysfunctional. But Steinbauer’s infinite patience listening to Rebney’s long diatribes eventually pay off. We begin to understand Jack Rebney’s unique perspective. We begin to like him, maybe even admire him. In the end, the film illuminates the real appeal of the videos and the man, and provides a profound insight into the human condition.

Winnebago Man is currently available on Netflix, iTunes and Amazon

Posted in DVDs, Movies | Leave a comment

Win Two Free Tickets to LA Weekly’s Brunch at the Races!

My Fair Lady at Ascot. Photo property of Paramount Pictures

My Fair Lady at Ascot. Photo property of Paramount Pictures

We are happy to announce that the LA Weekly is offering two General Admission tickets to their signature event, “Brunch at the Races” to one lucky LA Beat reader! Brunch at the Races is happening Sunday, October 18th, from 11am – 2pm at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia. The tickets give you access to unlimited bloody mary’s, mint juleps and mimosas, plus bites from 30 of the best breakfast and brunch restaurants in and around LA. Some of our favorites include Cassell’s Hamburgers, Fred 62, Superba Food + Bread, BierBeisl Imbiss, Abigaile’s Kitchen, and Auntie Em’s. There will also be horse races all day, so get out your giant hat.

To enter, just comment below with the name of your favorite brunch spot. The last day to enter is Tuesday, October 6th. The lucky winner will be announced by email and posted here on Friday, October 9th!

If you don’t win, tickets are only $45 (or four tickets for $139 with the “short stack pack” special) or $65 for VIP. You can get your tickets here. All ages.

Posted in Cocktails, Events, Food, Restaurants, Upcoming Events | 6 Comments

Abbot Kinney Fest 2015

StaggA blisteringly hot and sticky Sunday in Venice Beach brought out thousands for the 31st annual Abbot Kinney Fest along the mile long stretch of boutiques and eateries along the now gentrified, some would call hip, boulevard of the same name. Armed with an Iphone and a wallet I headed out for some people watching on this sunny end of summer afternoon.

I still haven’t quite figured out what a “hipster” is…Apparently they mostly wear long beards and neatly trimmed short hair, an odd combination of body hair, adorned with mismatched tattoos and sometimes seen in Converse flat tops.

At least this is what I have been told to look out for, and there were a fair amount of these types wandering around the beer stands today. I didn’t think it was possible to make the dress of the 1970’s seem cool but this generation seems to be attaining these lofty goals based on some of the get ups I saw today.

Continue reading

Posted in Art, Beer, History, Live Music, Music, Photo Essays | Leave a comment

How to Eat Katsu-ya on the Cheap

Katsu-ya Nigiri Sushi (photo by ChrisO)

Katsu-ya Nigiri Sushi (photo by ChrisO)

Everybody loves Katsu-ya, but not everybody loves the price. As insiders (primarily people who are lucky enough to work near a Katsu-ya) know, there is an early-bird lunch special with a set menu for the first fifteen people through the door. Since they open at 11:30, that means you should be in line by 11:15 at the latest. Guests waiting in line will receive a “tag” or ticket guaranteeing them the lunch special. Only one ticket per person, first come, first served, for only $9.80. Of course after a drink, tax and tip it’s going to be between $15 and $20, but it’s still an insane deal. The early bird special is also offered at Katsu-ya Izakayas.

The set lunch special, which is offered Monday through Friday, varies every day. On a recent Thursday, they offered teka maki (roll sushi) 8 pieces, and Nigiri Sushi 10 pieces. The crispy fried rice with spicy tuna is definitely the star. I noticed that the maguro was sliced a wee bit thin. In addition to having your fill of nigiri and teka-maki, there was also a mini-udon and a salad. On another day you might get sushi and Grilled Salmon or sashimi and an 8-piece roll plus black cod along with a salad and miso soup. The broth made with their own dashi is great, although Sushi Gen in Little Tokyo makes a killer Miso broth. But that is another deal for another day.

Katsu-ya rolls and mini-udon  (photo by ChrisO)

Katsu-ya rolls and mini-udon (photo by ChrisO)

All photos by ChrisO. Elise Thompson contributed to this post.

Posted in Food, Restaurants | Leave a comment