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My LA to Z: Jason Bentley
When he’s not on air, this audiophile explores Venice’s canals, avoids traffic via Castle Heights, and reminds us to hit the Hollywood Bowl during sound check
Jason Bentley, host of the KCRW (89.9 FM) weekday program Morning Becomes Eclectic, moved to L.A. when he was 13 years old, but he knows the city like a native.
Their green tea latte is really good. I also like their boba green tea drinks.
Rojo y Blanca at the SLS Hotel
They have this amazing dish with crab and a raspberry glaze (King Crab with raspberries, $16.00 on the Roho side of the menu). It’s sensational. The food there has a lot of taste combinations that are unexpected. Head Chef José Andrés is killing it.
There’s this funny shirt that Stroh’s Deli (now closed) made that says, “Venice: Where Art Meets Crime.” I’ve lived here for seven years and there’s still a bit of danger. It’s a real place with real diversity. It hasn’t been scrubbed and sterilized like other places in town. There are no chains or high rises. The Venice canals are pretty magical and make a really nice walk. There are old lampposts and you can just imagine what it was like when the waterway was filled. You can picture this bygone area. If you like crazy people, bodybuilders and gangsters, the Venice Boardwalk is the place for people watching. All the way up to the Santa Monica Pier is a great bike ride.
Tropicana Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel
It’s a classic hotel that was recently remodeled. Home to the first Oscars, it still feels like many ghosts of Hollywood past are inhabiting the building. There’s also something about poolside bars that’s very unique to L.A. David Hockney designed the bottom of the pool.
Father's Office at Helm's Bakery
Father’s Office makes the best burger. I don’t really like onions, but on this burger, I don’t even ask. They don’t allow for ketchup, even if you request it. You eat the burger as is. They also have many microbrews on tap and beer pairings. It feels like a neighborhood hang.
Hennessy + Ingalls
They have excellent books on art, architecture, and design. It’s hard to beat.
If you want to avoid traffic on the 405 and 10, try Castle Heights Avenue as a shortcut between Culver City and Beverly Hills.
The Hollywood Bowl
It’s a classy space and there’s a lot of history there. KCRW has been doing a series for 11 years at the Bowl called the World Festival (performances last year included Ozomatli and Feist). It’s tucked so nicely in the canyons, it’s like being in a park.
Because the Bowl is a Los Angeles County park, it’s open to the public during sound check. So the next time Radiohead comes into town and plays the Bowl, you can hang out in the bench seats. It’s pretty cool to be there when it’s empty. It has a completely different feel.
(Access to the park during sound check varies on a case-by-case basis. For more information, contact the box office at 323-850-2000.)
It’s so iconic and representative of so much in music. During the holiday season they have a Christmas tree placed at the top that you’re likely to catch a glimpse of around Los Angeles. It’s our version of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York.
Last year, Santa Monica sponsored GLOW, an all-night interactive art exhibit. It was kind of poorly executed, but they’re planning the next one. People like the unusual and it’s unique to walk around and interact with art exhibits in the middle of the night, by the beach. It was a celebration of people and culture on the west side. I’d say give them another chance. Look out for GLOW in 2010.
Ocean Park, Santa Monica
You can see a lot of people running and if you drive from Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Monica, it has that classic California incline. It’s a beautiful view. We become so preoccupied by the city that we forget that a short drive out of town offers some magical vistas between rolling hills and vast ocean.
Images courtesy of (in order): (1) Flickr/tiarescott, (2) thebazaar.com (3) Flickr/sundogg., (4) Flickr/averageman, (5) Flickr/vmiramontes, (6) Flickr/kennymatic, (7) Flickr/TheInfamousGdub., (8) Flickr/Skampy, (9) Flickr/ryandesiderio, (10) Flickr/alburn.binkley, (11) Flickr/sanjoyg