The Black Market Liquor Bar
I moved out to L.A. in ’99 with my best friends, who have now opened their sixth restaurant and bar, and Black Market in Burbank is one of their best. They have Happy Endings, too, but Black Market has the greatest menu: it’s all tapas and appetizers. They have everything from quail eggs to breaded cauliflower, just the most exquisite, strange, eclectic menu. The dessert is like deep-fried peanut butter and some kind of bread. These guys, we grew up on the same block in Staten Island, so when I go there to eat, it’s like family.
Glendale Whole Foods
If anybody ever needs to find me, I’m in the Glendale Whole Foods. I think it’s the greatest Whole Foods on the planet. There are a bunch around the country, but this one seems like it has everything. Plus, everyone is super cool, the flow is fantastic, and it’s in my hood.
It’s the business. The food is tremendous. Super healthy—I’m crazy about how I eat. That’s the one truly amazing thing I’ve picked up fom L.A.: people have a very healthy way of living. Being from Staten Island and Brooklyn, I’m used to eating pasta and meatballs every single day. And here I’m learning about tofu and kale. It changed my life. I’m so crazy now about “organic” and “fresh” and stuff that’s “free range.” At Four Café everything is clean and good, and they change their menu every three months. I love it.
I call it the anti-Starbucks. The owner and his wife are really good frinds with Tig from Sons of Anarchy (Kim Coates). It’s not even because you’re on a TV show—I don’t think the people there even own TVs—but they know your name. I’m used to mom and pop places, and that’s a reason I love Eagle Rock and Pasadena. There are still a lot of those. Except for the enormous Target, there are mom and pop hardware stores, a pizzeria that’s been there for years, and an Italian bakery that is incredible.
The Rose Bowl
I jog at the Rose Bowl and I collect antique and vintage furniture, so I’m there every few weeks for the flea market. Most of my life is vintage, from cash registers to Paul Newman-signed pictures to old factory cards to certain clothes to Robert F. Kennedy election material. Like, I had Sonny and Cher’s couch from one of their houses. When I decided to get into this hustle called Hollywood, I started backtracking on old films. You can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you came from. Hollywood has always had this specific mystique—when I saw things like the Hearst Castle, I got caught up in the times, and mainly the furniture. The Rose Bowl is one of the places you can find all that stuff.
The Sons of Anarchy Set
When you pull onto our stage, you see the Teller-Morrow garage, the Clubhouse—if you walk inside you see Jax’s house and Gemma’s house and the hospital. I’ve been on a million stages and on these huge lots, but there’s something about walking onto the SOA one. In a way, you’re in [the fictional town of] Charming. Usually you pull in and everyone is on their bikes, [creator/director] Kurt Sutter comes in on his bike, and there it is. You’re in it. We’ve had the same crew since we’ve started, and we’re just this enormous family. I know it’s not open to the public, but it’s a tremendous place for me to be. My life in L.A. didn’t really start until I got on that show in ’08.
The Fairfax Flea Market
I was going there when I couldn’t afford anything. We would haggle with a guy for a chair for $20 bucks, and now I go there collecting all this vintage stuff and seeing certain people—I’ll see these guys selling paintings, and it’s a massive throwback for me. I used to go there every weekend. You get the real feel of Los Angeles, especially with Melrose right there. It’s part of what you think of besides Beverly Hills and the beaches and Hollywood.
It’s an old school vintage motorcycle shop with old school L.A. bikers. They built a custom motorcycle from the bottom up for me. It’s called The Mistress because it’s the mistress to my Harley, which is my every day bike. It’s this cool chopper that’s got the most badass paint job, this really vintage feel, and it looks like it was assembled in the ’60s. You can’t ride it more than 10 miles without your back killing you, but it’s really cool.
When I first got out there, [my six friends and I] didn’t have anything. We had an ’89 Civic and a Cadillac, and we shared two cars between us. When I had the car, I’d always want to go to the beach. That was my thing. I’d go to Mugu Point if I could get the car overnight. I’d have one of my dogs—my English bulldog, little Jake—and we’d go down there and camp. It’s crazy that that was 14 years ago, but Mugu Point always signified L.A. for me. It’s where I thought about everything I wanted to do. I thought about maybe having to wait tables or be a bartender, about making people proud in New York. When you’re a kid, you’ve got these dreams. Mugu Point is where I’d set all that stuff into motion in my head, so it’s a super special place.
All photographs courtesy facebook.com.