Wednesday, January 29, 2014

'Hood #12: Sherman Oaks Which Is Like, Totally, Fer Sure, the Valley

Well, I knew this day would come.  Since I've challenged myself to visit all of LA's neighborhoods, that meant that eventually I'd have to go to...dun dun dunn... the Valley.

Last night, my friend Kate—who works for the ArcLight theater and often invites me to movies for free in Hollywood—invited me to see American Hustle. Only this time, we'd meet at the theater where she usually works in Sherman Oaks.

Here's the thing about the Valley:  for people such as myself who've always lived near the beach, the Valley is the other side of the 405 Freeway.  You may as well be saying "the other side of the moon."  And yet, the lure of a movie and the chance to check Sherman Oaks off the list of neighborhoods had me hopping into my car IN RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC to make the 11-mile, roughly one hour drive up the 405.  I thought about bringing provisions but decided to tough it out.

It was even more the Valley experience than I'd expected.  Turns out the ArcLight (which, btw, is a very snazzy theater) is located in The Galleria Mall—a mall made famous in the '80s by Moon Unit Zappa's "Valley Girl" song. Kate also told me that the ArcLight sits on the same site where the movie theater scenes were shot for Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  Justin Bieber and his entourage have been frequent movie-goers here.

Anyway, even though I always think of the Valley as soooooooo far away, it really didn't take me any longer door-to-door than going to Hollywood. And on, say, a weekend when traffic is lighter, I could probably get there even faster.  (Truth be told, now that I live in Palms—even though it's considered a Westside 'hood— it is east of the 405, so I am already on the "other" side of it.)

There are still more 'hoods in the Valley to explore as part of my LA 'Hood Challenge, but this was an easy and enjoyable way to get my valley feet wet.

As for American Hustle? Loved it.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

'Hood #11: West Los Angeles... Where I Met A Dude and Brought Him Home With Me

Update: here's the handsome fellow now...
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Today I visited the neighborhood of West Los Angeles—or more specifically, the West LA Animal Shelter.

I went there because I've been thinking of getting a cat for a while now, ever since I moved into my condo and I realized I'm not out of town as much as I used to be.  Even though I grew up with cats, I've never had a cat as an adult. I fostered a really sweet cat for a while, and I sort of half-stole a neighbor's cat once, but I never actually had one of my own.

After some soul-searching, I decided that—rather than a kitten—I wanted to give a home to an adult, perhaps middle-aged cat, say, between two and six years old.  Preferably female.  I like petite cats that are multi-colored (calicos and gray and white cats are particular favorites).

I first stopped by the shelter two days ago.  I was helped by a girl who is the spitting image of Anna Kendrick, which made me instantly like her and hope she'd bust out into a rendition of the song Cups from the movie Pitch Perfect.  Anyway, I told her what I was looking for, but added, "More than anything, I want a friendly cat.  I want a cool cat.  Somebody kinda chill, but who likes a good cuddle and takes things in stride."

She said, "Oh, then you need to meet Spencer."  She took me over to a cage where a big, charcoal gray, old, fat cat with vivid green eyes and one clipped ear looked up at me.  Nothing like what I had in mind.

Anyway, the great thing about this shelter is that you get to hang in a room with the cat—so she pulled Spencer out of his cage and we had a lovely little supervised visit, sort of what I suppose used to happen in the times of Jane Austen.  Spencer took a moment to survey the room, but eventually he strolled over to me and plunked his enormous girth in my lap.

A lesser woman would have fallen for his charms right there, but this was my first stop in my cat search—plus I did not want a male, senior (he's eight), 14-pound, one-color cat.  I asked Anna Kendrick to pull out a couple more cats, making it clear I wasn't committing to anything that day.  Then I went on my way. (BTW, she couldn't have been more accommodating and patient.)

Afterwards, I stopped by a PetSmart adoption, where—other than being a bit younger than I'd wanted—every cat was so cute I found it impossible to even focus in on any one.

Truth was, I had Spencer in the back of my mind.

Then this morning, I went back to the shelter to re-visit one of the cats that I'd seen who met all my criteria:  female, five years old, multi-colored, easy going.  Alas, as much as I wanted there to be a connection between us, there just wasn't.

Spencer in his official shelter pic 
As I was leaving, I passed Spencer's cage, took one look at him, and burst out crying.

What can I say?  The heart wants what it wants.

The funny thing was, as I filled out the paperwork and he went through the process of microchipping and the final check, staff kept coming up to me excitedly saying, "Oh, he's such a favorite here!" "A real underdog!" (Undercat?)

As I type this, he's getting the lay of the land in my condo.  Although he's currently more comfortable under the beds—and he's going from bed to bed like Goldilocks—he'll happily emerge anytime I come around to collect a head-scritch and/or a treat.

And, starting tomorrow, we're both on diets.

'Hood #10: Miracle Mile for the LA County Museum of Art

Today was Free Museum Day in LA, and therefore the perfect day to visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in LA's Miracle Mile neighborhood (on what's known as "Museum Row").  I've been to the 'hood's most famous museum—the La Brea Tar Pits—but amazingly enough, never to the art museum.

I met up with my Aunt Marcy and her sons (my cousins, although they're more like nephews) Nick and Simon.  The boys went to view the Japanese section first, and Marcy and I beelined it for the European paintings (her favorite) and the Contemporary section (my favorite).  

The place was positively loaded with Picassos—and enough other big name artists, i.e., your Warhols, Magrittes, Dalis, etc., that it was a fun mix of exploring unfamiliar works and visiting "old friends." 

And free for the day!  

Not only that, but as I was pulling out of the parking lot prepared to pay my $12, the attendant laughed when he put in my ticket, told me the machine messed up, and buzzed me through for free, saying, "This is your lucky day." 

As an fyi, even though this was a special event, LACMA is always free on the second Tuesday of each month, as well as after 3 p.m. for LA County residents on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

'Hood #9: Century City, Which I Owe an Apology...

I recently mentioned my 'hood challenge when chatting with a friend and her husband, and the first thing he said was, "I bet you're excited to do Century City!"

I thought he was joking (so, for the record, did his wife).  Why on earth—other than reporting to a job—would anyone want to go to Century City?  Even though it's only a couple miles from where I live, it's nothing but office buildings and one mall that's impossible to get to because of all those office buildings.

In fact, my computer broke several months ago, and rather than take it to the Apple Store in Century City's Westfield Mall, I made an appointment to head to one four times the distance—that's how giant a hassle I believed it to be to get in and out of Century City.

I probably would have stalled on this particular neighborhood until nearly the end of my challenge, only my friend Mary Jo just started a job there and really wanted me to meet her for lunch.

So, today, I mapped out a route, braced myself for traffic and parking hell—and got there in about 10 minutes, traffic-free, and parked in a nearly-empty mall lot that's only $1 an hour.

Century City: I apologize.  I misjudged you.

Yes, I'm sure it'd still be a nightmare trying to get there during the morning or evening commute hours. Mary Jo told me it's taken her as much as an hour to travel a mere six miles.  Mid-day, however, it was a breeze.  Even though I'm not much of a shopper (and it was shops and fancy restaurants, btw, that my friend's husband thought would be the big lure for me), if I need to hit a store or meet a friend for lunch—or even catch a movie matinee—I now have an option nearby that's far more convenient than I'd thought.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

'Hood #8: South Robertson, the "Heart of Jewish LA"

Today I went with a friend to explore South Robertson, which is considered the center of LA's Jewish community.  According to Wikipedia, the neighborhood features more than 30 Certified Kosher restaurants (many of which can be seen on a drive down Pico Blvd.), as well as numerous Jewish community centers and schools.

We decided to start our visit to South Robertson with a trip to the Museum of Tolerance, a holocaust museum where we toured an Anne Frank special exhibit.  (I'd have liked to have seen the general exhibit but there was an hour wait.)

While I found the exhibit's format somewhat frustrating—it's run on a timer so you can't explore independently—overall it was thoughtfully crafted.  As an example, one area featured a large portrait of Anne's face and a quote of how she wished to some day see Hollywood—and the docent pointed out that the view Anne faced was, in fact, the Hollywood hills in the distance.

After the museum, we thought it would be fitting to eat at a deli or kosher restaurant, and we wound up at Schwartz's Bakery and Cafe.

We ate lunch (veggie soup and toast for me, bagel with cream cheese and lox for my friend), but we were both far more excited about the bakery case.  I'm still trying to cut down on sugar in my diet, but she bought a selection of cookies and danish and challah bread—so what choice did I have but to sample some of hers?  I mean, she offered; I didn't want to be rude.

Anyway, although I'll admit I was a little disappointed for our trek to North Robertson I didn't get to see the main section of the Museum of Tolerance—I'd imagine some of the artifacts and exhibits would be mighty compelling—it turned out our timing was lucky.  As we drove home after the bakery, we spotted firetrucks by the museum and a crowd of people standing outside who'd clearly been evacuated.  Had we waited, we would have been part of that crowd.  (Of course, nosey body that I am, I tried to find out what the deal was, but it must have been nothing because none of the local news outlets covered it.)

As for my LA 'Hood Challenge, this makes eight neighborhoods down, 129 to go.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hood #7: Melrose for Shopping & a Very Famous Dog Stand

Pinks—a legendary hot dog stand on La Brea Ave. at Melrose (since 1939!) that always has a line, day or night—is one of those LA "must do" attractions.  As much as it's a "must do," however, I've never done it (because I'm not kidding about that line).  Today—as I set out with my friend Shelly to check Melrose off my 'Hood Challenge List—the plan was to have a dog,  and then shop Melrose Avenue.

(My original plan, for the record, had me heading to points north for a hike, but a wildfire in Glendora has made air quality throughout Los Angeles such that we should avoid breathing if at all possible.)

Melrose (see map, R) is better known as a street than as a neighborhood, but it's there—nestled between Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.

Without traffic (oh, how rare it is to say that), we got to Pinks in about a half hour.  After parking in the free valet lot (where we left our keys somewhat worringly with a guy who provided no receipt but a promise he'd remember our faces), we headed to the line, which at 4 p.m. on a Saturday was about 50 people long.  I assumed it would move quickly... uh... wrong.  About 45 minutes later, we made our way to the front, where I ordered a turkey dog (I don't eat beef or pork) and onion rings.

I could have had a Rosie O'Donnel Dog (mustard, onions, chili and sauerkraut) or a Huell Howser Dog (two dogs, one bun), but I decided to go with the basics.

My friend's "real" hot dog looked amazing.  The turkey dog?  It was okay...I was happy they at least had an option for me.  It was more the fun of hanging in line, watching the crowd and being part of an institution that's been around so long that made it worth the wait and the $6.95.

And as for shopping in the area (on Melrose Ave. between La Brea and Fairfax), if you're in the market for cheap, trashy clothes appropriate for a 20-something, this is your place!  We did stumble across a fabulous store that looked like Lady Gaga's closet exploded—a truly awesome, oddball jumble of (not cheap) couture. I can't remember the name of it, but it was tucked back into a little courtyard and would be an excellent place to shop if you find yourself in need of something really outrageous to wear and have hundreds of dollars burning a hole in your pocket.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Hood #6: Westside Village - Winner of Most Trader Joe's Per Square Mile

OK, I don't know if that headline is true, but for such a tiny neighborhood, it does boast two Trader Joe's grocery stores (see map, R)—and given there are only a handful of stores in the 'hood overall, that's a pretty high percentage.

Westside Village is a primarily residential neighborhood sandwiched between Palms and Mar Vista in West LA (and I'm having a hard time remembering the name, as there is technically no "village" to speak of).  I'd never even heard of it, even though it's directly next door to where I live.  It's only because of my 'hood challenge that I've started to notice the neighborhood signs around town, and I saw this one on my way to TJ's.

When I looked Westside Village up online, I discovered that it's where I've been running several of my regular errands—my bank, the two Trader Joe's I frequent and the CVS store. Westside Village is also home to the flagship Beard Papa's—a bakery specializing in super yummy cream puffs. (If you go, get the Cookie Crunch Puff if it's on the menu that day...soooooo good.)

As much as I wanted to revisit Beard Papas to "experience" Westside Village, I'm trying to cut down on sugar for the new year.  Therefore, I felt the second best way to experience Westside Village was to shop the Trader Joe's.  TJ's is, in my opinion, the best grocery store ever and, therefore, the highlight of neighborhood.  (Randy Newman did that I Love LA song in the '80s; I could remake it as I Love TJ's.)

So today I took a shopping trip to TJ's and, in the spirit of this challenge, reminded myself that I wasn't in my 'hood—that I'd crossed over to Westside Village.  It may not seem like the most exciting adventure, but I did get a couple yummy salads.  For a Friday morning and with a refrigerator as empty as mine was, that's actually pretty thrilling stuff.  Besides, I set out on this 'hood challenge knowing that some neighborhoods are going to be just that:  places where people live and shop.  It's all part of the LA experience.

As a side note, I will add that my favorite thing about this Trader Joe's is the express lanes sign that—in addition to being cheerfully rendered—uses the grammatically correct "fewer" rather than "less."

(Oh, and one more thing:  Westside Village apparently has many jacaranda trees.  While they're nothing much to see this time of year, I made a mental note to do a drive-through in the spring when they're in bloom.)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

'Hood #5: Playa del Rey & a "Top Chef" Restaurant

Even though I'm not a "foodie"—that is to say, I like food, but I have a pretty pedestrian palate—I am a big fan of the Bravo TV reality show Top Chef.  I've always wanted to go to a restaurant run by a judge or contestant of the show, and it so happens Season 11 alum Brooke Williamson (one of my favorite contestants) owns two restaurant/pubs in the Los Angeles area.  Tonight I went to The Tripel in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Playa del Rey.

Playa del Rey (or "Beach of the King") is a primarily residential area near LAX airport. A friend of mine used to call it "Playa del Nothing" because it's tiny and a bit on the sleepy side —just a few restaurants, shops and office buildings.  In its defense, it is uncrowded and right there at the beach.

The Tripel (which, fyi, is a term for a type of ale) is small —as in, about six tables (some communal-style).  It was nearly full by the time I arrived at 6 p.m. on a Sunday, and I bellied up to the bar to wait for my friend, Kirsten.  In the meantime, I met a man whom I dubbed The Mayor of Playa del Rey* a Tripel regular who has lived in Playa del Rey for most of his life and had plenty of info to share about the area—a lucky break when one is trying to learn about LA 'hoods.

As for the food... delicious!  I ate way too many of the Sweet Potato Tots (yes, tots!), and Kirsten and I shared Chicken Waterzooi and a plate of the Roasted Fall Veggies (an AMAZINGLY delicious dish of fall veggies and "fried brussels spout leaves, toasted pepitas chimay cheese fonduta, romesco and pickeled raisins").

For the veggies alone, I'd definitely go back.  Also, for it being a Top Chef contestant-owned venue, the prices were very reasonable.  Brooke Williamson and her husband's other restaurant is Hudson House in Redondo Beach—and rumor has it (per The Mayor*) they'll be opening another place in Playa del Rey called the King Beach Snack Shack as early as February.

Have any ideas for great things to do/see in neighborhoods in City of LA?  Please let me know!

*There is no mayor of Playa del Rey - as part of Los Angeles, it falls under LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

'Hood #4: Pacific Palisades - a Skip in the Park

Today my friend Leslie, her pup Louie and I hiked in Will Rogers State Historical Park in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Pacific Palisades.  We hit the trails—which are dog, horse and family-friendly—around 9 a.m.

I've been to the Palisades plenty of times to go to Gladstones restaurant (which claims it's in Malibu, but it's not).  This was the first time I tried any of the many hiking trails, so it was a nice change of pace.  And on such a beautiful day, it sure beat being cooped up in the gym—or what would have more likely been my Saturday morning activity, cleaning up around the house.

'Hood #3: Discovering the Beauty of Watts (Seriously)

'Hood:  Watts

Today, my challenge took me to Watts, a neighborhood that was home to the famed Watts riots of 1965 and that has a reputation for having a fair amount of gang activity.  It's also where you'll find the Watts Towers, which is what I went to go see today...and which turned out to be much cooler than I'd thought they'd be.

I'd heard people mention the towers over the years, and a quick glance at the Watts Towers web site showed they offered tours every half hour Tuesday through Sunday.  I figured a Friday afternoon would be less crowded, and it's one of the benefits of being my own boss, that I can give myself the occasional afternoon off.  I also regularly celebrate casual Friday...and casual Monday, Tuesday, etc.

To get to the Watts Towers from West LA, I took the 405 South to the 105 East, exiting at Wimington (am I sounding like an episode of SNL's The Californians?).  I followed Google map directions, but I started to wonder if they were wrong because—instead of being in a business district where I'd be coming across an art museum of some sort—I was driving through a residential neighborhood, near the rail tracks.  Most of the houses were tiny, low bungalow style, so if I were in the right spot, surely I'd see towers rising above, wouldn't I?  I'll admit, as dumb as I know it is to be nervous just because I happen to be in a low-income neighborhood in broad daylight, I still wasn't wild about the idea of being lost in Watts.

I soon turned a corner, however, and there they were.  Upon seeing the towers, I realized how off my expectations had been. It was that word "tower"...I'd envisioned something massive, like the Sears Tower, or the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The Watts Towers are about the height of a telephone pole.

I'd arrived just in time for a tour, which at first was just me and my lovely tour guide, Lucy.  I was actually glad when another guy showed up so I didn't make Lucy go through her whole shpeal for one person.  (Unfortunately, he turned out to be a real mansplainer, and piped in endlessly with his own tidbits of information completely unrelated to the towers throughout the tour.)

What delighted me so much about the towers is that they were a labor of love (or possibly an obsession) of an Italian immigrant named Simon Rodia, who spent 30 years starting in 1961 building them in his backyard with found materials in his spare time.

Suddenly I felt a little guilty and downright lazy about that afternoon I'd given myself off.

The Watts Towers consist of 17 major sculptures constructed of structural steel and covered with mortar and decorated with broken glass (7-up and Ginger Ale bottles seemed to be a favorite), sea shells, pottery and tiles.  Rodia built it without machine equipment, bolts, rivets, or even a ladder.  And, according to our guide, he held things together with coat hangers.

The towers stand 99 1/2 feet tall because 100-feet was the maximum height allowed for the area at the time—and after Rodia completed them, he gave the keys and the deed to his home to his neighbors and left.

My whole excursion took about two and a half hours, or the same time as seeing a movie (and at $7 for the tour, a lot cheaper).  When I got home and posted this pic to my Facebook page, a friend who'd lived in LA for 30 years and recently moved to North Carolina lamented in the comments that she'd never gotten around to seeing the Watts Towers.

I'm glad this challenge gave me the incentive to make sure that I did.

Monday, January 6, 2014

'Hood #2: Downtown ... Underground

Thursday, Jan. 2

'Hood:  Downtown Los Angeles

Tonight, to check "downtown LA" off the list, I took a Metro Rail art tour—a free, docent-led guide of the commissioned art at several Metro Rail stations.

It met up at Union Station, and I was happy to learn that for this particular tour, most of our time would be spent there, then moving on to Civic Center and Pershing Square.

For year I've worked for agencies (including as a consultant for Metro) promoting ridesharing, so I've walked through Union Station many times.  I think it's gorgeous, so what was great about this tour was getting the inside scoop on the art and architecture, as well as "fun facts"... such as how the brass circles in the floor used to be velvet rope poles separating first class train passengers from the rest of humanity...and how the walls are made of cork to absorb sound.

Seriously, though, how beautiful is this?

And the chairs!

At the Civic Center station...

The tour ended at Pershing Square downtown, where there was an ice rink set up for the holidays  As someone who grew up skating in Michigan, I thought it was hilarious to watch a non-stop conga line of Californians clinging to the side of the rink with no clue how to skate.  Ha!

Metro Art Tours are free and typically run the first Saturday/Sunday of each month at 10 a.m.  The tours cover different Metro stations and change regularly.

Day 1 of My LA Hood Challenge, New Year's Day in Baldwin Hills

'Hood:  Baldwin Hills

Where:  Smack in the middle of LA

I thought I'd start out the new year — and my year-long challenge to see LA's neighborhoods — with a hike.  This, I figured, would coincide nicely with the diet and exercise regime I start every year on Jan. 1.

One of my favorite hikes (OK, one of my only hikes) is the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, a 511-ft. peak hill just southwest of downtown with amazing views of the city.  I figured it'd be inspiring to see what I'm about to embark upon for the next 365 days.

Only problem was, when I looked into it further, I realized that—even though Baldwin Hills is right there in the name of the hill—it's technically in Culver City. And Culver City, alas, is not part of Los Angeles.

So... plan B.   A quick Google search led me to the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area nearby at La Cienega and Rodeo.  I was lacing up the ol' hiking boots getting ready to go when, upon taking a closer look at the map, I noticed the park appeared to be in an unincorporated part of the city—in other words, not City of LA.

So...plan C.  I'd do the hike anyway because, dang it, I wanted to see some vistas and valleys and the Hollywood sign through the smog!  To be true to the spirit of the challenge, however, I tacked on a drive through two notable (at least according to Wikipedia) Baldwin Hills residential communities.

I zipped to the park in just 10 minutes (although on a non-holiday, I'd triple that).  I couldn't have asked for a more glorious day to begin my adventure—mid-'70s and sunny.  I'd spent the morning reading posts from friends back home in Michigan bemoaning a snowstorm, which made me especially grateful for the day.

After paying the $6 weekend/holiday fee to enter, I had a choice to park and start hiking up to the top, or drive up and hike once I got up there.  I decided to drive (don't judge), and it was a lovely wooded drive past a lake, gardens, and—a tad less scenic— oil rigs.  Ah well, considering this is dead-center LA, it was pretty naturey overall.

I walked about two hours through grassy fields and along trails.  Along the way, I encountered other people, but I also had long stretches of being on my own.  Some of the sights ...

All in all, a perfectly pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

On the way home, I drove through two neighborhoods:

The first was Baldwin Hills Estates, which I read is known as "The Dons" because all the streets are named after the Dons that originally lived there (Don Miguel, Don Marco, etc.). It's also one of the wealthiest majority-African American areas in the US. I enjoyed a peaceful, winding drive through quaint, '60s style homes.

The other 'hood, Village Green, is a historic area, but it basically looked like a bunch of older condos... the historic-ness of it was lost on me.  Sorry, but "meh."  To be fair, the selling point of the area is that it's a walking-only area, with communal space between the buildings, so maybe if I wasn't already "walked out" I'd have enjoyed it more.

Regardless, I can promise I wouldn't have done any of this if it weren't for my LA Hood Challenge, and I'm so glad I did.

One down, 136 to go...

What is the LA 'Hood Challenge?

Jan. 1

I've given myself a challenge for 2014:  I am going to visit every single one of Los Angeles' 137 neighborhoods during the year.  From Hollywood to East LA to far north as Sylmar and south to San Pedro.  And yes, even, like, the Valley.  As part of my challenge, "visiting" can mean anything from driving around to taking a tour to hanging in a restaurant or bar (although, of course, the more engaged I am in the 'hood, the better).

The reason I'm doing this is simple:  I want to break out of the rut I so easily get into — plus see more of this great city I now call home. It won't be easy for me—and not just because traffic in LA is so bad I'm committing myself to countless hours of driving.  Fact is, I have total recluse tendencies.  Being a writer and working at home, I easily fall into a malaise where I find myself clicking on the TV and tuning out life.  I'm hoping this challenge will force me back into the world in a fun and adventurous way.

The idea for this started about about a year ago, when I moved from Hermosa Beach to an area of Los Angeles known as Palms.  When I tell people where I live, they say, "You mean Thousand Palms?  Or Palm Springs?" No.  Just Palms.

Palms, fyi, is a small LA neighborhood that sits north of Culver City.  In fact, the LA Weekly recently referred to it as "a poor man's Culver City," an admittedly dubious distinction, and not one with which I entirely agree. I myself had never heard of the neighborhood until my real estate agent—weary with my insistence on buying on the Westside, but with more of an Inland budget—suggested I give it a look.

Shortly after I moved here, I happened upon a spiffy little online game (I'll post it if I can find it) which had the player find LA neighborhoods on a map.  That's when I realized how many there are ... and, for the record, I failed the game miserably.  I mean, Fremont Place?  Brookside?  I've never once had a friend say, "Hey, let's head out to Elysian Valley to grab a quick bite!"

Yet it got me to thinking.

I once tried to do something new every day for a year.  Full disclosure:  I didn't make it that time... although I did make it to Day 283, which is a lot of new things.  What worked about that challenge is that it broke me out of my rut, at least for a while.  I think it failed because, doing something every day stopped being an adventure and started being a chore—and when I was on a writing deadline, that didn't work.  For this challenge, I'll be averaging two to three neighborhoods a week.  For me, that'll be enough to make it tough, yet with enough flexibility to make it possible.

As a reference, I'm using the City of LA Neighborhoods Map.  LA's neighborhoods aren't specifically designated and, therefore, are up to some interpretation.  It's not my goal to become an expert on exactly where these boundaries lie so much as it is to get out there and see the city.  Also, I'm only doing the main neighborhoods—the "sub-neighborhoods," which would bring the count up to 269 communities, I'll hit on an as-desired basis only.

So there you have it.  One woman, one year, 137 'hoods.

Wish me luck and, please, if you have any suggestions for things I can see or do in specific neighborhoods, please let me know!