100th Post: Big Things Coming!

In true LA form, this blog will be getting a facelift! You’ll see some sweet changes in the coming weeks, as I re-focus my energy and get to WERQ blogging about different things I love.

For you artsy folks in LA, there are a couple events I’m quite stoked about. Recently, I learned about Atlas Obscura, which is a fantastic way to explore the world from your computer screen. They also organize events in major cities across the country. I am finally available to attend one and was fast enough to register for a spot. Be sure to sign up for their email updates so you are the first to know about these unique tours. While this one is sold out, there are other great ones and always more on the way. I’ll be sure to keep you posted about my experience on the upcoming tour: Exploring the Bridges of Downtown LA’s Arts District. Lucky for me, I’ve been meaning to get over to the Arts District–perfect!

If performing arts are more your thing, perhaps you’ll consider Carpe Noctis. When I first got the LA Weekly email announcement, I was confused about what the 4-day festival entails. Although I’m still not clear on what exactly to expect, I know $45 for 4 days of theater performances and unlimited booze = YES. The festival will run every Thursday-Sunday in October with over a hundred 10 to 30-minute performances each weekend. My take: even if I attend a single day, I can easily enjoy $45 worth of drinks and fun.

I hope you’ll take time to dabble in some creativity, whether at these types of events, or otherwise. Have a good weekend all!

MOAR CONCERTS: Panic! At The Disco

Seriously, all the concerts. I guess I’m just prepping for the Made in America Festival this weekend. Summer is such a great time for music! This time, Kimi planned for us to see Panic! At The Disco. While I’m not familiar with most of their new music, I know every single word to every single song on A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. That album came out when I was in high school–their songs were just so IT when I was that age. [Also when I was in high school, I would listen to the same CD for two months straight, thus learning every lyric and quirk of each song.] Needless to say, I was super down to see them live even though they haven’t been under my purview in recent years. I was kinda skeptical because the one TV performance I watched years ago was horrible, but they proved me wrong. And thankfully so!

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We got to the Greek Theater around 5:30, even though gates didn’t open until 6:30. No matter how long I live in LA, I will never underestimate traffic. The crowd was full of youngsters with bad hair dye jobs wearing t-shirts of rock bands they probably don’t even know. It was endearing to see parents taking their kids to the concert, though. Also cute were the older couples who were probably my age or older when P!ATD’s first album came out.

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We headed straight for the bar, but soon realized there was no rush because majority of folks were underaged! We def bought a bottle of wine with no hesitation–yes, there is an entire bottle of wine in that plastic container I’m holding! Pretty sweet because you can actually bring that into the theater. But I’m sure you know ours never even made it close. panic at the disco, youngblood hawke, walk the moon, greek theater, los angeles, concerts

Even though our seats were “far,” the venue was actually smaller than I imagined. Youngblood Hawke and Walk the Moon opened, both of whom I’ve never heard of. They were great though! Looking forward to checking out more of their music. They did an awesome job of hyping us up for Panic!panic at the disco, youngblood hawke, walk the moon, greek theater, los angeles, concerts

I’m in absolute awe at the sound of Brendon Urie’s voice! I always thought it was digitally manipulated to have that signature intonation, but sheesh, that voice sings straight to your soul. He sounds exactly like he does on their albums. Panic! had such great energy during their show. I was even stoked during the songs I didn’t know. The real cause for panty-dropping though? They covered Bohemian Rhapsody! And of course, Brendon’s voice is probably one of only a handful that could do the song justice. You can take a peek of it below.

Basically, I spent the entire concert falling in love with Brendon Urie. First, he wowed me with his voice. [Again, how does it even sound like that?] Then he took his shirt off. Then he played the piano. And the guitar. He said the “F” word a lot. Then the Queen cover. And a screamo version of “giving it up for Youngblood Hawke and Walk the Moon,” which was hilarious. All night I wondered why he isn’t an opera singer or on Broadway with that voice. Seriously, imagine Brendon Urie singing every Disney prince’s part. I know, you want to throw panties too. But I suppose he’s too busy being in Panic! At The Disco.

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This overwhelming show caused me to go home, put on my $45 sweatshirt and look through every single one of @brendonurie’s Instagram posts. And now I’ve just discovered all of their other covers on YouTube. Don’t get me wrong, I love their music. I also appreciate artist’s covering other great artists’ works. Thank you for reading this ode to Brendon Urie. :P

//verbal diarrhea caused by swooning

FO’ FREE: Tori Kelly x Sam Smith x Iggy Azalea

Living in LA does have its perks, even when it comes to your utility companies. Last week, I received an email informing me to pick up two free tickets to a VMA concert hosted by Time Warner Cable. All I had to do was show up to their store in Beverly Hills on a given date/time, verify my account, and grab my tickets. Whaaaaat?

We got to the Avalon in Hollywood about 4:30pm on Friday (doors were slated to open at 8am). With only a handful of people in line, Kimi and I opted for a pre-show happy hour at St. Felix. Thank heavens Kimi changed her work schedule to get to this concert–I swear am I always dragging her on my adventures! <3

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Free sunglasses and glow bracelets

We didn’t wait more than an hour an a half in line, which would have been fine if we realized how chilly it would be. Definitely a good preface to Made in America coming up this weekend–must bring a jacket! TWC reps were giving out free swag and reminding us to hashtag all our photos, as goes the new normal. This was our first time at the Avalon, which is a cross between a club and concert venue. When we got in, we immediately went to find some seating because how awesome would it be to comfortably sit and enjoy a Sam Smith performance? It’s the little things in life.

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Just moments before entering the venue, we found out Tori Kelly had been added to the line-up. Seriously, the things you learn via social media. She opened the show with a short, but sweet set of original songs. Every piece spoke to my soul–so refreshing to witness such powerful songwriting and singing all at once. Of course, she sampled some “Thinkin’ Bout You” and “Rude” lyrics in the true cover form that got her noticed on YouTube. I was absolutely blown away by her sheer talent and stage presence. She had nothing but a guitar and her beautiful voice and it was all she needed. Can’t wait for her debut album! Also, she was killin’ it in that little black romper with all that hair. Yes, girl. hollywood, tori kelly, twc vma concert, vma, mtv, free concert, los angeles, avalon

Sam Smith was definitely the highlight of the night! I still cannot fathom how we were able to attend such an intimate performance for free, with hardly any hoops to jump through. He has been such a sensation this year, selling out two LA dates in just minutes. And I got to see him for free? Hearing his voice live is mind-blowing. [If you watched the VMAs and thought that was phenomenal, you definitely need to get to a concert.] There are only a handful of performers out there who sound better than their albums and he is one of them. It’s obvious how humble this man is from his stage presence to his no-frills set. He was up there doing what he loves and was delighted to find the crowd loving it. I was basically crying through the whole thing because all his songs bring out the feelz!hollywood, sam smith, avalon, los angeles, twc vma concert, mtv, vma hollywood, sam smith, avalon, los angeles, twc vma concert, mtv, vma

I’m just going to leave this semi-derpy picture of Iggy Azalea here. We stayed for maybe half her set. Her songs are catchy, but I’m not really a fan for a number of reasons–mostly because I’m a self-respecting critical person who tries not to eat up all the hype that comes my way. I will admit her performance was a crowd-pleaser and full of energy, but eh. I am a little sad I missed seeing her fall off the stage.

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Check out some clips of Sam Smith performing “How Will I Know?” live for the first time ever and also the super popular “Stay With Me.”

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Despite some terrible customer service on the internet and cable end, Time Warner Cable definitely gets points for sponsoring such a great event! Los Angeles is one of the only places were superstars will put on a free show–gotta love it!

Baes in the Bay | Ladies Do Brunch

It’s been a while, friends! I’ve got some thangs in the works, but life hasn’t stopped and I haven’t stopped living it. Got a passion project coming soon and I think you’ll enjoy it :)

As life goes, impromptu trips are necessary. This past weekend, I hopped on a bus to the Bay to see a friend who was visiting from NYC. Yes, this seems a little extreme for a brief reunion, seeing as I’ll be in New York in 2 weeks. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this post-grad life, it’s that you should do anything and everything to maintain relationships that are important to you. Spending three days with fabulous, inspiring folks was beautiful, necessary, and refreshing. We caught up with each other and rolled with the punches, making plans on the fly.

Saturday morning cravings called for brunch. My tourist instincts sought out the best brunch in every single SF neighborhood and one of the girls chose the spot in Cole Valley: Zazie. We knew it was meant to be when a parking spot opened as we pulled up to the packed restaurant. A 45-minute wait with no reservation at noon on Saturday was reasonable enough.

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Zazie was this chic little french bistro with some outdoor seating, a handful of indoor seats, and a sweet garden patio in the back. The five of us were seated in the middle of the restaurant’s hustle and bustle.

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The place was lined with French production posters and artwork. High ceilings made for a comfortable, sunlit setting to meet up with friends.

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Ain’t no shame is Brunch Spirits! I had the Le Metro, which is Zazie’s signature champagne refresher finished off with real lavender. Great way to start off a weekend.

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A cup of delicious butternut squash soup helped me get acclimated to the SF chill–it was nice to get out of the SoCal heat for a while! The creative paper garnish was much appreciated.

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I did one St. Trop poached egg (wild smoked salmon, capers, and red onions), which was the perfect portion after starting with a drink and some soup. Everything was super nomz, but I’m no food critic–as evidenced by my choice of adjectives. Their choice of flatware rounded out the cozy, welcoming vibe.

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Catching up with these fierce womyn over brunch was amazing–and in the perfect setting! [Not to mention this place was built up by some powerful ladies as well!] We definitely felt grown discussing child-rearing techniques, cooking hacks, and career trajectories over brunch. Post-grad, who? Zazie serves brunch everyday (I know, right) from 8am-2pm. Definitely worth the stop, whether you’re a local or just visiting.

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Love these ladies!

Visiting happycakes :) | A Cupcake Wars Winner

You have probably never heard of Morehead City, North Carolina. I have only heard of Morehead City because my husband just so happens to live there. As a diehard LA resident, I was bored out of my mind visiting for two weeks… but they do have one claim to fame! happycakes :) [Okay, there are beautiful beaches. But like a true LA-native, I don't actually like the beach.]

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happycakes :) is a young establishment, having won Season 9 of Cupcakes Wars in just their first year of existence. Needless to say, we had to stop in for a taste. You know I am not above overpriced desserts–or most novelty foods, for that matter. Ez and I got an espresso cinnamon sugar cupcake (Cupcake Wars winning flavor), a banana creme cupcake, and a huge chocolate chip cookie. 

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L: Espresso and cinnamon sugar | R: Banana creme

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Excited to dig in

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Everything was delicious! Moist cake and flavorful frosting that isn’t overbearingly sweet. We had to buy a box and share the love with Ez’s friends who hosted us for dinner. Two of these bad boys even journeyed across America so my roommate could try them. I brought them home in an attempt to alleviate our sadness from Crumbs closing

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Cute condiment station

This definitely lifted my spirits after hours cooped up in Ez’s apartment. It was nice to discover this gem tucked away in good ol’ Morehead City. Will have to go back sometime!

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Culver City Third Wednesdays: Spiked Lemonade

Summertime in LA means going out and doing fun, cute things. A couple weeks back, we fulfilled our fun quota by hitting up Downtown Culver City’s Third Wednesday for the first time. I barely learned about this monthly event even though I’ve had friends who lived here for 2+ years. Every third Wednesday of the month, Downtown Culver City hosts a block party with over 25 participating restaurants and businesses. This month’s theme was “Spiked Lemonade,” so 15 different places mixed their own versions of lemonade and we got to try each for 10 cents. Other restaurants and shops offered specials and discounts for this day only.

We started of at Lundeen’s to pick up our “Third Wednesday Passports” and get our first taste of lemonade. I’m glad this was the starting point, because I wouldn’t have gone in here otherwise. The ladies in the shop were super welcoming and had a bomb lemonade to start off. This store had a bunch of unique gifts and  books–will definitely be visiting again soon!

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Power 106 DJ-ing the block party

We were also supposed to get beads with each lemonade, but some places didn’t have them or we forgot to ask. We still made off with quite a few though. The event ran from 5-9pm and in our excitement, we started at 5pm on the dot. A handful of places hadn’t even mixed their lemonade when we got there–slacking!

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Lemonade and Pisco from the Culver Hotel

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Mixing drinks for us at Rush Street

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Best and strongest of the night from Seventy 7

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Spiked lemonade samples supposedly cost 10 cents each, but most places had a nifty container of dimes on hand. They insisted we take one dime from one bowl, place it in the other bowl, and voila! We got our lemonade sample. One of the bartenders explained that the samples are supposed to be “free” but liquor laws require that patrons actually pay for them so this is Third Wednesdays way of bypassing this rule.

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Tearing up the karaoke machine in front of LaRocco’s

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The manager scooping samples at LaRocco’s

Our passports had to be signed at each destination before turning them in for a raffle drawing. Kimi diligently took notes on each lemonade so we could exercise good judgment in voting for the best mix.

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With our last sample and completed passports at the Kirk Douglas Theater

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Spinning the wheel for prizes

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Prize wheel come-up

By 7pm, we were feeling pretty good from multiple shots of alcoholic lemonade.  We didn’t even make it to our planned dinner or movie! After taking a tour and grabbing some snacks at the Kirk Douglas Theater, we opted for some pizza back at LaRocco’s. During our walk, we encountered different acts also lining the streets to make it a real block party. Of course there were singers and live bands, but the guy below probably stood out the most.

photo 5 (5)All in all, good times. Even though I’ve been bar hopping and brunching multiple times in Downtown Culver City, I found so many places that I never knew existed. Can’t wait to try some new restaurants, peruse the local shops, and catch a production at the theater. Until next Third Wednesday!

Money Sucking Hole: DTLA Night Market

I am a consumer. The amount of money I spend on “deals,” novelty items, and unique foods is probably the reason our economy hasn’t completely collapsed yet. If there is a festival advertising food, art, and merchandise, you better believe I’m there. Especially if it involves “celebrating diversity.” I’m a sucker for progressive buzz words.

Last Friday, I dragged John and Kimi to yet another LA event–the first Downtown LA Night Market. After hitting up the KTown Night Market a couple months ago, I was pretty hesitant since I had an awful experience there. I came to DTLA Night Market prepared to wait in long lines to get in, wait in long lines for food, and waddle through crowds of folks hopping on the hype.

I’m proud to announce this night market proved me wrong. We got to Staples Center Parking Lot 7 around 6pm (it went from 4-10pm) to avoid the lines, but it never got extra crowded throughout the night. Major points for this. The lot was huge and there were a ton of booths so the throngs of people kept moving–I swear it wasn’t dead! We walked the food aisle twice picking up some things and scoping out what other goodies.

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$5 filet mignon barbeque stick. Melted in my mouth!

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$8 tuna poke chips. Great flavor and super fresh.

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One booth boasted this giant boba cup that seemed like a cute display, until they offered for us to drink out of it for $4. That’s just disgusting. I suppose if we were to do it, it would have been smart to go first. I didn’t quite understand the logistics of sipping from this giant cup… but there had to have been some demand for it, right? Also, sorry to the poor volunteer in the photo–I wanted some size reference!
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John and Kimi had the sample game on lock. Basically Costco samples on crack. You could have gotten full scouring for samples. We had dessert buns, beef jerky, fried squid, passion fruit juice, and more. Samples drew interest and made the admission price worthwhile. This made a difference in terms of the event being welcoming and fun, rather than just seeming like a money-grab. photo 3 (1)

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$4 blackberry lemonade. Sour and delicious.

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$5 pork belly slider. So tender.

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$5 potato swirl – half cajun, half parmesan garlic. All bomb.

We also enjoyed the Night Market’s Art Walk, which consisted of local contemporary artists. Minion Me definitely grabbed our attention with his adorable Despicable Me Minions versions of popular characters. The prints showed everything from Marvel to The Simpsons to Justin Timberlake and even Jesus. 2×3 prints were $15 each. If you bought two, you got the third for $5. And if you bought nine, the tenth was free. Needless to say, we bought ten.

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The artist, Kris Kehasukjaren, was onsite turning us all into Minions for free! He does events at a rate of $45/hour, which seems like a steal to me. I need him at my next birthday! I think this is socially acceptable even though I don’t have kids.

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Kimi was extremely excited to become a Minion

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L to R: Kimi, John, me

Other artists also created their masterpieces before our eyes, which I love witnessing. It’s crazy to think these canvases were blank and these folks just went to work on them. Some by brush, some by spray can, all amazing.

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We perused the other sweet booths, checking out novelty items, clothing, and merchandise. I also took the opportunity to join the national bone marrow registry with Be The Match. Although I haven’t been personally affected by a need for bone marrow donors, I have learned about the shortage of Asian-Americans on the bone marrow registry list via various social media campaigns and acquaintances. What’s a little pain if I could help save someone’s life? I filled out some paperwork and swabbed my cheeks, briefly went over the process, and that was that!

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Procuring my cheek cells as she double-checks my form

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Cheek swabbing action

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I love local business because they give me a good reason to justify my impulsive spending habits. You’ll encounter sweet pieces that you won’t find at the mall. Up your style game by shopping local! Abstrakt LA hooked it up with some unique jewelry I’ve been missing from my collection. Kimi and I also picked up some hats–every girl needs a floppy hat! Especially when it’s $7.

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All in all, DTLA Night Market surpassed my expectations and it’s great to see these types of events growing into a SoCal staple. Whether you’re looking for some grub, some garb, or just a good time, you’re bound to find it at a night market like this. This was a great way to kick off summer outdoors and get in the spirit of LA’s vibrant culture. Thank goodness for my down ass friends who trust me to plan adventures. Can’t wait for the next one!