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More Great L.A. Adventures

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By Scott Fields

Published Jul 1, 2011 8:00 AM


Here's even more Bruin-owned and operated stops around Los Angeles. With the warm summer evenings upon us, pick and choose which of these adventures suit you, whether it's a date night or a family stay-cation in the area. And if you haven't already taken a look, check out the locations featured in the July 2011 print magazine here.

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The Griffith Observatory at night. Photo by Chris McGarry.

Put your eyeball to the universe

Experience the Griffith Park Observatory's version of the Greenwich Meridian by arriving just before noon and gathering with other onlookers at the Gottlieb Transit Corridor, where the bronze Griffith Meridian will pinpoint the exact moment noon strikes the Hollywood Hills.

Griffith Observatory

2800 E Observatory Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(213) 473-0800
www.griffithobs.org/

Location: Griffith Park
On 3015 acres, this is one of the ten largest urban parks on Earth, yet it is often ignored by LA residents. The vast expanse is covered with hill-meandering trails, many with stunning mountain, city and ocean views. Ambitious? Add an evening show at the Greek Theater. At the Observatory, you'll love meeting:

Dr. Ed Krupp, Astronomy MA '68, PhD, '72, Director
Dr. Ed Krupp has been the Director of the Observatory for a very impressive 37 years, and recently saw it through its four-year expansion. First working here as a graduate student in the UCLA Physics and Astronomy Department, he is part of a robust and lasting connection UCLA science students and faculty members have had with the Observatory since its founding in 1935. Krupp is also well known as an astronomer and author.

After you've watched the sun cross the meridian line, head into the main building and check-out the latest Griffith Observatory solar system planet count (circa 530), as well as the largest astronomical picture in the world (mindboggling). Upstairs, you'll get a lesson on why Dr. Krupp calls Southern California the Alexandria of astronomy in the twentieth century. Make sure to gaze into the solar telescope (the world's most used instrument to view the sun), and don't leave without attending a session in the Daniel Ocean Planetarium. It's the only major venue in the country still using live narrators (and Dr. Krupp intends to keep it that way, because that's how he started).

Hint: After your visit to the Observatory, find the trail to Ferndell Park that follows a stream lined with moss-covered rocks. When you arrive at Ferndell's, a lush garden, have a picnic dinner in the exquisite shade.

The best sweet potato pie in town since 1934

Stop for dessert at a Los Angeles institution since 1934 that is owned and operated by a former Bruin women's relay team Olympian gold medalist. And then take a whole lot more of the goodies to go.

27th Street Bakery

4308 Crenshaw Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90008-4902
(323) 298-0318
www.27thstreetbakery.com

Location: Leimert Park
If you visit on a weekend, chances are the park at the core of this South Central section of LA will be alive with drum circles and flag-waving protest marches. Designed by the sons of Fredrick Law Olmstead in 1928 as part of a model urban community, the park is adjacent to Leimert Park Village, where Creole and Jamaican restaurants, African-centric art galleries, and independent book stores line the main streets. Just around the corner on Crenshaw Blvd. is the 27th Street Bakery (it's not on 27th Street), founded as a restaurant in 1934 by the family of…

Jeanette Bolden '83, owner/operator
You may not know that the Head Coach who led the UCLA women's track and field team to three NCAA championships owns and operates one of LA's most famous bakeries with her husband, Al Pickens. The pies and cakes are still baked with the recipes Jeanette's grandparents used when they first moved to LA from Shreveport, Louisiana, to open a restaurant at the original West Adams location. It was turned into a bakery in 1956.

Come on a Saturday for the bakery's weekly fish fry. Then order what will no doubt be a very healthy slice of the sweet potato pie for dessert and let it melt in your mouth.

Hint: Take a piece of the decadence cake or the sweet potato and pecan pie to go. Chances are, you won't make it more than a few blocks without eating the whole thing.

Cool store, cooler products

Experience the inventive merchandise of a very clever former Bruin at simplehuman, where tools for efficient living are designed with function as a priority over form.

simplehuman

10250 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90067
(310) 551-5274
www.simplehuman.com
Products also available online and at home furnishing stores everywhere.

Location: Century City
Next time you're at the Westfield Mall for dinner, a movie or shopping, make sure to stop into the simplehuman store for a visit, if not a purchase. Check out the interactive display of the stainless steel trash can (complete with an odor-absorbing filter kit) that opens by sensor. Because he works at his company's headquarters in Torrance, you probably won't run into:

Frank Yang '94, founder and CEO
As a UCLA undergraduate, Frank Yang studied political science, so one could consider his present work as somewhat random. But UCLA is also where he met his wife, Susie Chen '94, who introduced him to design. And Frank maintains that the political science skill sets he learned translate to engineering, because designing new products is all about creating a vision and having the right supporting evidence to make it happen. Frank's brother Peter Yang '96 is Vice-President of the company, and other employees are Bruins as well.

Hint for pet owners: Check out the pet food can with locked lid. Attractive and perfect for keeping those kibbles organized.

The heart of a new arts district

Monte Vista Projects

5442 Monte Vista St.
Highland Park, CA 90042
www.montevistaprojects.com

Owned by a collective of seven artists, two of whom are UCLA staff members, this gallery's mission is to help sustain the local art scene. There's a new show every two to three months in addition to poetry readings and other events, and some of the featured artists are Bruins.

Location: Highland Park
Venture into LA's newest and perhaps most eclectic arts district on the second Saturday of the month, when over 25 private studios and public galleries in Highland Park and Eagle Rock are open to the public. While at the Monte Vista, you're likely to meet:

Chris Bassett (UCLA Art Department) and Frank Chang (UCLA Media Arts Department)
Basset and Chang believe in the credo that artists should attempt to establish their own institutions and community without feeling like the commercial art world is the only game in town. On campus, Frank oversees a fabrication shop for the Media Arts Department and Chris runs the computer lab for the Art Department. Both maintain their personal art studios in the rear of the large space that features the gallery up in front.

A non-profit, the Monte Vista Projects is funded entirely by fundraisers and donations. Most of the featured artists are local, including Dawn Kasper '99, who showed here in the spring. If you visit in July, try to catch a performance art exhibit by animator John Hogan. In addition to their visual art, many of the artists put their other wares up for sale as well.

Hint: Try to hit Monte Vista Projects just before lunch, and then head around the corner to the Good Girl Dinette for comfort food, Vietnamese style (think curry chicken pot pie).

Whatever your hands can make

Hands-On 3rd

8377 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048-4312
(323) 655-0515
www.handson3rd.com

Support local artisans by purchasing their products and taking the classes they offer at the funky Hands-On 3rd, a great place for an indoor activity day. You'll have a blast and learn something too.

Location: West 3rd St., Los Angeles Lined with boutiques and eateries, West 3rd between the Grove and the Beverly Center is refreshing because there are few chain stores in sight. Try the Magnolia Bakery for a coffee, browse through the Polka Dot vintage clothing shop, and check out the Traveler's Bookcase . You may also want to visit the Craft in America Study Center , a museum and resource library that offers free workshops. At Hands-On, you'll connect with:

Renee Ridgely '89 After graduating, Renee worked as an actress for 15 years, and she still participates in Buffalo Nights, a theater company of UCLA grads. With the establishment of her non-profit Hands-On 3rd, her goal has been to create a community where visitors can feel good through the joy of making something with their own hands… and where they can actually intermingle in person instead of online.

In addition to functioning as a workshop and retail space (mostly art supplies), Hands-On is home to three artists-in-residence who create everything from repurposed vintage jewelry to leather goods and sculpture. They are often found seated at a table in the store's front window, enabling passers-by to watch them craft their work. Workshops include crash course daylong classes in sewing, knitting, crochet, soldering — even power tools — or anything anyone suggests that's doable. Have a cup of the complimentary tea that is always brewing.

Hint: Try it for date night. You may think it's just a place for ladies who lunch, but it's not.

Ribs for Bruins

Next time you're in the Long Beach area, head over to Naples Island to sample the Orsini family recipes at the Naples Rib Company. You'll feel right at home when you spot the UCLA football helmet and jersey displayed above the bar. (And if you venture down to the Newport Rib Company you'll see a virtual museum of UCLA sports memorabilia.)

Naples Rib Company

5800 E. 2nd Street
Long Beach, CA 90803
(562) 439-7427
www.ribcompany.com
Additional location: Costa Mesa (Newport Rib Company)

Location: Naples Island, Long Beach
Go to Belmont Shore first, just over the bridge from Naples, to walk on the Belmont Pier , and/or for a ride down the bike path. Stop for a coffee on Second Street, and then perhaps catch a sunset gondola ride around the canals, complete with singing guides dressed like Venetians. Then cross the bridge over to Naples Island for dinner at the Rib Company, where you may meet:

John Orsini '86
John runs the Costa Mesa location but he's often in Naples, where his brother Dave has managerial responsibilities. Their dad started the eatery when John was still at UCLA, and after a stint at Gallo Wine, he joined the family business. The Rib Company, with a large take-out business, is the preferred off-campus vendor for the UCLA football team, and caters for other Bruin sports events, including Rose Bowl tailgating parties, basketball team dinners and golf tournaments.

Hints: The ribs are a treat, but don't forget to try the tri-tip. And try stopping by the Costa Mesa location for the weekly Orange County Bruin breakfast — eggs, oat meal, ribs, sausage, and a talk by one of the UCLA team coaches, all for $15.

Bring the summer fun to you

If you're having a party and you want to try something new your guests will love, hire a former star Bruin cornerback to bring his ice cream truck over for dessert. In addition to the great product and reasonable price ($300 for 40 guests), it is likely to bring back memories of childhood summers.

King Kone Delivery Ice Cream Truck

(323) 208-1403
www.kingkonela.com

Location:Your house
You can find the ice cream truck parked at locations around LA and Santa Monica, but if it's a definite date you want, schedule a party or other event and call:

Teddy Lawrence '95
After three years as the starting cornerback for the Bruins, Teddy went onto the pros, but it didn't work out (long story). He taught school for 10 years for the LAUSD and loved teaching, but grew frustrated with a system he didn't feel was operating toward the benefit of the children. In 2007, he and his wife started King Kone by investing in a truck that was custom designed for their needs. Stops on Teddy's route have included special events for UCLA and Bruin alumni associations.

King Kone does everything imaginable with soft ice cream — floats, splits, milkshakes, sundaes — but make certain to try the strawberry and cream cone. It'll remind you of those delicious strawberry shortcake ice cream bars you used to get from the neighborhood ice cream man.

Hint: Try looking for the King Kone truck on Wilshire Boulevard across from LACMA as one of its few regular stops or follow them on Twitter for regular location updates.

Local hang, classy vibe

If you're thinking South Bay, cold beer, medieval décor, and hip people, then you might want to try Southland. Tuesday is karaoke night, Sunday there's a live band, and Throwback Thursdays will definitely bring back memories of the 90's for you thirty-somethings. Try the 6 to 8 PM nightly happy hour ($2 a draft, $3 for well vodka).

Southland

23900 Torrance Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90505
(310) 326-1400
www.southlandbar.com

Location:Torrance
The gem destinations seem to be tucked into strip malls in Torrance, two such venues near Crenshaw and 239th Street. First, stop at the Gyu-Kaku Japanese Bar-b-que for happy hour appetizers, and then head down the street to Southland for the rest of the evening. Depending on the night you're there, you'll meet one of the two Southland partners who split the time there:

Scott Chen '99 and Justin Saka '99
They've been buddies since Fraternity days at Lambda Phi Epsilon. Corporate jobs in finance followed graduation but neither wanted to make that world a career. They established GoProductions in 2003 as a platform to produce very large parties at venues around town, and used their fraternity connections at UCLA and other Southland campuses to populate them (check out this web exclusive for more about Go Productions). Just last year, they opened Southland as a place where guys can watch a game, but also bring a date because of the cool look and vibe.

The UCLA ties run deep here. Saka is on the board of the UCLA Asian Pacific Alumni, and the bar is hosting a mixer for the group in (Bruins of all ethnicities welcome!). Chen and Saka are hoping Southland will become a Bruin hang for the South Bay, something they say is sorely missing.

Hint: Try LaVida Hollywood, Scott and Justin's gathering in Hollywood on Friday nights, or their Exchange LA in Downtown on Saturday nights (billed as the largest weekly party in LA at over 1300 guests or details). Check www.goproductionsla.com for details.

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