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My LA to Z: Mark Z. Danielewski
A formal jazz club, a small wine shop, a down and dirty bar, a Santa Monica park, and a couple of book stores top the writer’s list of favorite places in L.A.
You can also catch Danielewski at REDCAT on Halloween, where he’ll conduct a theatrical production of The Fifty Year Sword and sign books to raise funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
I certainly was aware of Alice Waters when I was up in Berkeley. I couldn’t afford to go to Chez Panisse but always wanted to go, so I eventually heard about Suzanne Goin when I came to Los Angeles. I love to go to the bar there and know a bit of the staff. If you’re really nice to Christiaan there, you can ask about his numbered drinks. They aren’t on the menu. I like the #9 and #27.
One recent discovery that I really like is the Blue Whale. It’s an incredibly small jazz club where they are very strict about people not talking or having their phones out. Extraordinary musicians come through. I saw the Necks and Larry Karush there. It has a little bit of the old New York jazz scene and also a little bit of an other-worldly vibe.
I’m all in favor of Libros Schmibros because David Kipen brings such a wealth of knowledge and is so passionate about books. The way he is promoting reading is really great.
I check out the manga and I like to talk to Franny, the cat. We have one of those conversations that is very private. Franny talks a great deal about American contemporary literature. But most people don’t stop to listen.
Goose Egg Park
It’s a small little park in Santa Monica where a merry band of lunatics assemble and practice Tai Chi. [Instructor] Michael Krubiner is there every Saturday. If anyone were interested, he’s very approachable and you could go and play push hands with him or ask him questions about his practice. It’s a fun place to leave your head and reconnect with your body. I’ve been studying for two-and-a-half, three years.
It’s somewhere I discovered before House of Leaves had come out and I sort of walked into it on my own. I remember talking with a friend there about the completion of House of Leaves and the beer bottles just filling up one of those booths. It has that down and dirty feel. Plus, it’s where Bukowski and the Beatles drank. I get the Dirty Jaguar, which is a shot of Hornitos with a drop of Mexican hot sauce.
If I find Franny at Skylight Books, I find myself as I was at 25 at Book Soup, and I was such an idiot back then it makes me wonder how much an idiot my now self will appear to my later self. The answer is pretty sobering.
One of my favorite hikes starts off at the area where the coffee shop is and winds up through the houses, up the fire road past the dog park, and up another fire trail. It keeps going and going, and eventually you get to a point high above Griffith Observatory. As my friend says, “it’s a little further than far.” It goes just that extra distance where your body starts to get fatigued and it’s great.
What I love about it is the communal area where families or men and women lounge and everyone is clothed in these big shorts. They have a restaurant so you can eat a healthy Korean meal and spend a few hours there. When I was there I felt like I had left the country. That’s very restful.
Whenever I have to go to a dinner party I drop in to pick up a bottle of wine. I don’t know that much about wine, but when I was going to a dinner with Jonathan Gold they advised me. There’s also a bottle that I was introduced to that is phenomenal. It’s called Malagon and it’s the reserva de familia from Guadalupe, Mexico and it is hard to find but exceptional. They try and get it. It’s a small, tastefully done collection.
Photographs courtesy (in order): Michele Reverte, (1) lucques.com, (2) larrykarush.com, (3) librosschmibros.wordpress.com, (4) skylightbooks.com, (5) santamonicapatch, (6) yelp.com, (7) booksoup.com, (8) nobodyhikesinla.com, (9) wispausa.com, (10) venokado.com