Archive for Los Angeles

Private Clubs: What’s a Fickle Socialiser to Do?

SoHo House Berlin

For a long time, the idea of joining a private club didn’t make sense to me. Being a bit ADD in my cultural fixations, I couldn’t imagine paying dues at one establishment which would then become my default social arena.

In LA, I visited the Jonathan Club which is lovely in the summer for its perfect positioning alongside the Pacific Ocean but ultimately more of a families-with-kids place (that’s Hell on a hangover on most weekends).

During the last months of my time in Amsterdam I met some colleagues at Baby, a fabulously stylish club on the Keizersgracht canal that was geared towards creatives (and tied to an uber-hip magazine of the same name). Sadly I departed soon after and so did Baby which has long since closed its doors.

In London, clubs are a big, big thing, and you can’t throw a stone without hitting one. Everything from the super-stuffy ones in Mayfair to Paul Allen and Dave Stewart’s ultra-casual, jeans-sporting Valhalla: The Hospital Club.

Initially, the most appealing of the lot to me was Home House. West End-centrally located in Marble Arch, it is housed in a gorgeous 18th century building and the plus (for an Angeleno) is that it has a gym–included in membership. The scene is perfect there too–not too grubby and casual but not too stick-up-the-bum.

I discovered, however, that they charge a trumped-up membership initiation fee of £1800 which I’m guessing is non-refundable. Beyond the fact that it’s the highest initiation fee of any club around here (according to some club survey sites), it’s even more of a killer if you’re a fickle frolicker and want to join a club for a year and then join another the following year.

SoHo House in Manhattan

Ultimately, the tried and true (for media types) SoHo House may well offer the most varied memberships–the ones to all of its properties: London (including SoHo, Notting Hill, Chiswick, Shoreditch and Somerset), Berlin, New York, West Hollywood and Miami. It doesn’t look like any of the London branches have gyms but there is a pool at Shoreditch House.

Besides, if you’re a constant traveller who likes style and taste, and you’re a tad lazy (ahem), there’s probably nothing better.

SoHo House Somerset England

Living Abroad: The Love Affair With Place

Place Vendôme Paris France Sights

By Shana Ting Lipton

I see your hair is burnin’
Hills are filled with fire
If they say I never loved you
You know they are a liar…
LA woman, you’re my woman.

-Jim Morrison and The Doors

Your knees buckle, you feel off-center, yet filled with joy. A sense of the ‘anything is possible’ comes over you. You’re not yourself; nor do you want to be. You’re in love. And, to keep this love affair afloat, you’ll do anything…

Even move to another city or country.

Yet, in this case, it is, in fact, the city that is the culprit, the object of your affections. You are enamored–or at the very least interfacing and engaging on a deeper more intimate level–with a locale.

Without such a passion, one might argue, how else could one take such a bold step as to pack up one’s things and move half-way across the world (or across the country)?

It takes blind faith, the promise of euphoria, and an object of great desire to drown out the voice of fear (that keeps one moored in one’s home terrain) and kill the creature of habit (and safety).

And just like your first love is different from a second marriage, and a second marriage is different from a whirlwind holiday love affair, so ‘city love’ differs from place to place (and person to person). More detailed analogies and some true life experience can be of some help here.

New York…cue George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue…now that’s a riveting, mile-a-minute, exciting metropolis to fall in love with. My love affair with New York was intense from the get-go. There was nothing that could keep us apart. I ate, breathed, slept (and often pulled all-nighters with) Manhattan. This was one fascinating, intellectually profound and culturally savvy partner.

But then, after living in the City That Never Sleeps for a few years, the bloom wore off the rose to reveal a crazy, thorned bitch of a city who like some psycho stalker was hell-bent on destroying me.

Manhattan, for me, was a city of young love–perhaps not first love (not nearly as naive and crushing) but an immature, passionate love with nowhere to go but into the pits of Hell.

So it was that after some time of enduring ‘the Smell’ (hot, humid garbage and pollution in the summertime), the constant noise (a loop of car alarms and ambulances) and weather (my ‘love’s’ extreme mood swings), I said “enough” and ended the tempestuous and unhealthy relationship.

Amsterdam, with its storybook canals, crooked little houses and wood-worm eaten house boats was romantic in a spiritual way for me. Everything ‘he’ did seemed fated, written in some great book in the sky.

Nothing was real. All was mystique and wonder…a great way to exist…for a time. But as I grew up, I wanted something of the everyday and commonplace in my city relationship–a way to mix the simplicity of life (cornflakes) with the ethereal and mystical (ambrosia).

Los Angeles, on the other hand was like the buddy that high-fives you at a barbecue and gets you an ice cold beer on command–predictable, laidback, uncomplicated but a bit vacuous.

Like ‘friends with benefits,’ LA and I spent years (on and off as LA is always my base–even when I have brief stints abroad) in a Hotel California type relationship. I could check out any time I liked, but I never really did leave.

LA would occasionally deliver the 2 a.m. booty call–disrespectful and shallow. But Los Angeles was also always there when I needed the proverbial couch to crash on or someone to grab a coffee with and hang out.

These days, as it turns out, I’m looking for nothing less than ‘the all’ in my city love, a harmonious ‘something of everything’ relationship Holy Grail. My ideal possesses: the romance and magic, the reliable everyday buddy effect, and the riveting sexual attraction and cultural and intellectual stimulation.

I’m ready for a city I can realistically love–for better or worse, for richer or for poorer–that will love me back unconditionally, realistically but also view me as a gem.

As a result, I have been spending some time in London–a place that never intrigued me before (in fact, my birthplace). It wasn’t ever exotic enough. It seemed to be a city of urban tests, grittiness, and depression despite its historic architecture and wit and witticisms.

But today, as an adult, I can finally appreciate a partner like London. Right away, I could see what would drive me nuts about the town: its spread-out nature, difficult public transport, smog and dirtiness, uptight citizens.

I could also see something magical: how the Gothic details on the molding of the townhouses came to life in the grey weather, the exciting driving cultural rhythm of this media capital.

My walks around the funny little mewses and roads–mad wind blowing through my hair, street life on fire, trickles of rain on my cheek–felt like an appreciative and adoring lover’s touch.

London, in short, may be the whole enchilada…a real city, a human city–of heights of ecstasy, depths of despair…and, ‘the laundry’ so to speak. London, may well be ‘The One.’

Proust Questionnaire: Los Angeles

By Theodore (Ted) Gerard Otis, Actor, Photographer, Writer, Solar Consultant, and Musician | Los Angeles

Los Angeles Travel Info From Locals and Expats

What is your idea of a perfectly happy day in your city?

Up early for yoga and meditation. If there’s plenty of sunshine, hikes, strolls amongst lush gardens like Descanso Gardens or Huntington Library, coastal or canyon drives (Malibu) and fine al fresco dining.

If there’s plenty of rain, then high-end movie houses like Arclight, photography excursions (rainy ‘noir-esque’ L.A. shots can’t be beat), and hot tea and deserts at places like Golden Bridge Yoga.

Book stores. Meeting with friends. Exploring the many exotic and interesting obscure excursions of which there are many.

Knowing your city and its citizens, what is your greatest fear?

Earthquakes. Auto mishaps.

Which historical figure would do best in your city?

Gandhi believed in the curative powers of the ocean breeze. I think he may have preferred to live elsewhere but would have thrived here because of the varied progressive ‘climates.’

Which do you admire most about your city (something from recent years)?

The closeness of places like Big Sur, Mammoth Lakes, Death Valley, Palm Springs, Lake Arrowhead.

I once set out with my brothers from a sun-drenched poolside morning tanning session in Palm Springs and by that afternoon we were literally skiing the slopes in Big Bear.

Which is the trait you deplore most about your city?

Air pollution, traffic, cell phone reception.

What is the negative trait that others falsely accuse your city of having?

That it is uncultured.

What is the greatest extravagance one can experience in your city?

Privacy. Climate. They may not seem like extravagances until you don’t have them. Otherwise, anything that can be purchased can be purchased here, directly or by agent.

What is a positive trait your city is known for that is actually false?

That Los Angeles is laidback.  Los Angeles is fiercely competitive and in many ways a very uptight, provincial city.

What do you dislike most about the architecture, city layout and general appearance of your city?

The mini mall explosion of the eighties has left countless blighted blocks in Los Angeles. And as practical as stucco is as a protectant, I wish it had never been invented.

When was your city’s hey-day?

1930-1960

If you could change one thing about your city what would it be?

Air quality.

What do outsiders (or transplants and long-time visitors) to your city generally answer to the last question?

Traffic, and not enough public gathering spots.

What do you consider your city’s greatest achievement?

Los Angeles is a hotbed for progressive laws (gay marriage, etc.) and environmentalism and other socially forward thinking causes.

Also Los Angeles is a dichotomy architecturally speaking, along with it’s blight, it has fantasy film-land vernacular and some of the most pristine lush neighborhoods on earth.

If your city was destroyed and one day its ruins discovered, what do you think they would find and/or learn about it?

That we were an economically divided and extraordinarily diverse melting pot.

What is your city’s greatest artistic or architectural acquisition?

Quite a few. The Getty Museum not only houses extraordinary art treasures, but is an architectural masterpiece in itself. The Walt Disney Concert Hall is up there as are many of Frank Lloyd Wright‘s residential and commercial structures.LACMA and MOCA house many art treasures.

More Proust Questionnaires:
Amsterdam
Beirut

Chic Trek: Hindu Hollywood (VIDEO)

Travel journalist Shana Ting Lipton explores the rich history of Hindu Hollywood–LA destinations with Eastern spiritual roots that gave rise to yoga culture in the West.