My LA to Z: Phyllis Nagy

The Emmy Award-nominated writer and director of Mrs. Harris opens names her favorite spots—from a café to a cemetery—throughout L.A.
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Phyllis Nagy is planning a move from Lafayette Square to downtown because it reminds her of New York and London. On the eve of the U.S. premiere of her play Never Land, which opens at Rogue Machine on October 8, the playwright opens up about her favorite places

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Book Soup

I really like Book Soup. I like the fact that it is just consumed by books. You walk in and the sheer number of books there is overwhelming. No one kicks you out or asks you not to linger.

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

From the moment I got to LA in 2005, I’ve been going to the cemetery. It’s a place where most of the people I read about as a child or made little scenarios for as a child are burried. I go there and sit and soak up the history and the feeling and the quiet and the peace. I’ve seen it go through a transformation. Now it’s all cleaned up, like Hollywood.

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Spago

It’s the best restaurant in L.A., all things considered. They do two things that I’m particularly fond of: their sweet corn soup is out of this world, and they also do an Anelletti pasta dish that is seasonal and filled with different vegetables. I’m a vegetarian, but they do this tuna cone appetizer that I see people eat it and I think I wish I ate that. 

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Mandarette Cafe

I like to sit at their round tables with the lazy susans and share with friends. The restaurant does unusual things with tofu, which is a staple of my diet. They do more interesting things with it then letting it marinate in mystery brown sauce.

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Cheviot Hills Recreation Center

I play tennis at least twice a week. My group has been playing doubles together going on ten years. I joined last year and we’ve had some pretty good games. We’re pretty competitive, and I like that. It can get passionate, especially when there’s a major tournament going on.

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Dodger Stadium

I’m a season ticket holder and have been for three years. I’ve been to somewhere between 30 and 40 games this year. I sit up and score the games sitting next to old scouts who tell me stories about who they signed. I’m a New Yorker so really I’m a Yankees fan, but they’re not here. I’m rooting for a Dodgers/Yankees World Series and I’ll deal with my outfit when the time comes.

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Culver City’s Farmers’ Market

I love Culver City. I love sitting and staring at the Culver Studios. It takes me back to the era I used to dream about when I was a kid.

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The Way We Wore

I love handbags, and so I like to go and browse the vintage handbag stuff. They have a lot of bags that look like they could have been sculptures. I like to collect. You can’t use them, so it’s not practical, but they’re like art, and The Way We Wore is a great place to get those kinds of things.

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Galerie Michael

The man who runs it gets fine arts from the Barbizon School painters, which I’ve collected in the past. It’s a beautiful gallery.

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Santa Monica

All visiting Brits love Santa Monica because the Pacific is such a shock if you’re used to the Atlantic. So I’ll head up to the Santa Monica Pier and up to Malibu and beyond. I’m not a beach person but there is nothing like the Pacific and I love taking visitors to see it for the first time. The blue, the intensity—I insist on shocking people with the ocean.

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Images courtesy of (in order): (1) booksoup.com, (2) Flickr/AlanLight, (3) Flickr/AlanLight, (4) Flickr/Aguapfel, (5) laparks.org, (6) Flickr/jondoeForty1, (7) Flickr/EdYourdon, (8) thewaywewore.com, (9) galeriemichael.com, (10) Flickr/prayitno