Archive for December, 2009

ESCAPE – (G)Luck for the New Year

NY_pig_hatI’m leaving Vienna early tomorrow morning to head back to Los Angeles. I had so much on my plate and so many photos to sort through I’m going to blog most of it after the fact, but that’s life. And yes… I know HiddenLA isn’t supposed to be about Europe… but it’s my blog and I’ll write about what I want to, so there! I’m ready to be back home and wander the streets of L.A. again, but it’s so incredible to experience familiar holidays through the eyes of a totally different culture. It’s something I want to share.

Case in point… New Year’s in Austria (named Silvester, after St. Sylvester) is a much different animal than we know. The New Year is all about pigs here. Yes, pigs. (more…)

IMAGERY – Memories of Diana, Pont de l’Alma, Paris

Ever since her death in the tunnel below, people have scrawled messages to Princess Diana on the Pont de l’Alma bridge.

Click to see larger image. diana

ESCAPE – Paris Christmas Market

Chocolate apples. YUM. I’d originally planned to go to the Christkindlmarkt in Vienna today, but jet lag took me over and I missed it. I’m a bit sad about that because the lights are so wonderful and the photos would’ve been amazing. Fortunately, I did walk through the Paris Christmas Market yesterday and got photos of that. It’s not quite as festive but the two markets are similar… the Vienna version just features more wood and lights. And there’s far more Jagermeister and expensive Christmas trinkets of all shapes and sizes. And *much* less foie gras. But the Paris Market is still quite festive as you’ll see in the album below.

(FYI, here in Austria, Christmas is celebrated on the eve before so I’m going to be offline for a day or so. I hope you all have a great holiday! I’ll post more soon!)

Click on the square image below to see 24 captioned pictures of what can be found at the Paris Christmas Market. To read the captions, just hover over the images. :)

Paris Christmas Market

ESCAPE – I love Paris in the winter, when it drizzles.

Running in the rain. I’m posting this a few days late due to a bad internet connection. I’m in Vienna now, but let’s just pretend I’m not…

I found myself wandering through Paris just *obsessed* with using my new camera… playing with the shutter speeds and apertures and all of the other little tricks. I can’t believe how far I walked in two days. For me, the weather was perfect… I was wearing three or four layers, but I was never uncomfortable. The sky was drizzling in a way that made all of the lights magically glow at night, but it never rained so much that I rushed indoors. There was ice on the ground, but not enough to slip on. All in all, they were perfect winter days and nights. I very literally took hundreds of photos, and I’ll spread some of the best over a couple of posts. Today I’ll post my favorite rainy night photos…

NOTE: Due to some problems with WordPress’ photo album feature, I moved these photos into a different album. Just click on the square image below to see eighteen pretty pictures.

A Rainy Night in Paris

ESCAPE – Join Me For An Austrian Christmas!

austria Let me tell you a story. When I was 14, I signed up to be part of the AFS program and live overseas with a family for the summer. Unfortunately, they called me with the news that I’d been accepted after I’d already made other commitments so I couldn’t go. I learned that my chosen host family consisted of a mother, a father, a younger son, and a girl about my age who all lived together on a dairy farm near Leoben, Austria. I immediately sent them an apology for not being able to meet them, and a few weeks later received a letter from the girl, Walpurga (Burgi for short), who soon became my pen-pal and first international friend. We came from totally different realities, but in our letters we talked about everything we could think of despite the language barrier, focusing on the things we had in common: school, friends, pets, concerns about Michael Jackson’s hair catching on fire… (Seriously. I wrote an entire letter about that. She still has it.) (more…)

FLASHBACK – The Sewing Nun, circa 1950

When poor little orphans were unable to pick up the dolls she made for them, Sister Josephine donned her giant habit and gallantly took to the air, flying from house to house like a true holiday superhero. Santa shmanta.


“Hopeful — Sister Josephine of the Los Angeles Orphanage sews doll clothes while Staff Sergeant Leo T. Batt asks Clara Jean, 8 (left), Johnnie, 9, Dede, 9, and Mary, 7, what they want for Christmas through Corps Reserve’s Toys For Tots campaign. Girls want dolls.”

SCREENING – Santa With Muscles

I know, I know. Posts have been sparse this month, mainly due to lingering illness and preparations for an overseas holiday (more on that in a few days). I feel like I’ve dropped the ball on passing along so much of the holiday goodness that this town has to offer… gee, I hope this makes up for it! :)

WHAT: Horrible Movie Night screening of the 1996 Hulk Hogan holiday less-than-classic, Santa With Muscles! Whachya gonna do, when Santamania runs wild on YOU?
WHEN: This Thursday, December 17, 8pm (Doors open at 7:15)
WHERE: The Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood
PRICE: $8. Includes screening, extra live entertainment, beer, wine, and snacks. RSVP to:

“…a film so bad, the original screenwriter sued to have his name removed from the credits. This cheesy Christmas disaster features the Hulkster as a millionaire of questionable morals (a stretch –?) who, during a run from the law, is knocked out cold and wakes up thinking he is Santa Claus. He somehow hooks up with an orphanage bedeviled by evil scientists (the head baddie is played by Ed Begley Jr.), and proceeds to do good. You will notice Mila Kunis in one of her first film roles as an orphan. But no rotten movie is complete without the inimitable Clint Howard! This one has got it all.”

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TODAY – Echo Park Holiday Shop Hop

n188570749463_1746WHEN: Today, December 12, from noon to 2am (!)
WHERE: Echo Park. Duh! (More specifically, along Sunset Boulevard between Logan Street and Alvarado)

DETAILS: A day of holiday cheer with shopping specials, performances, and workshops throughout the neighborhood. A fun-filled day of events – you can do your holiday shopping, enjoy great food, drink and entertainment, and support local businesses!

The Echo Park Holiday Parade begins at noon, but other festivities start as early as 10 a.m., with happenings all day and night until 2am! In addition to the festivities, businesses participating in the Echo Park Holiday Shop Hop will be collecting donations for local charities.

Participating vendors include: 826LA, Allston Yacht Club, City Sip LA, Future, K9 Loft, Masa of Echo Park, MediaNoche, Origami Vinyl, Out of the Closet, Rec Center Studio, Stories, The Clinic of Echo Park, The Echo & Echoplex and more!


I meant to go to this on Saturday but I was so focused on decorating the tree that I totally forgot! Fortunately, it’s today too! YAY!


uniquelaWHAT: “The largest independent design show on the West Coast! Shop directly from over 300 designers and artists, support local design and our economy, and have a blast!”
WHERE: California Market Center, 110 East 9th Street, Downtown
WHEN: Last day is today, December 6, 11am – 6pm
PRICE: $10 – with partial proceeds going to one of my very favorite local non-profits: 826LA! Entry gets you an exclusive-to-the-show limited edition tote bag, a free drink ticket, unlimited re-entry for both days, and access to our great lineup of free workshops. (Children 12 and under are free)

“UNIQUE LOS ANGELES is an exciting two-day shopping event that showcases independent design talent at great prices – with an emphasis on “made in America” goods, 99% of products at the show are proudly made right here in the USA! On top of shopping the wide variety of offerings, the event boasts many exciting Extras & Amenities, including free workshops, a lounge area, and two cafes. Plan to spend the day with us! (more…)

YUMMY – Cemitas Poblanas Don Adrian

©LA TimesI spent my formative years within an hour’s drive of the Mexican border, eating Roberto‘s carne asada burritos and Rubio’s Pesky Combos. Any time I see a sign with a name ending in “berto’s”… Alberto’s, Jilberto’s, Guadalberto’s… I begin to drool. While other people might turn to macaroni and cheese for comfort food, a perfect machaca burrito brings me tears of joy. Anyone from San Diego can relate: yes it’s true, we are Baja-style Mexican food snobs.

It’s for this reason that I generally don’t eat much Mexican food in L.A. When I do, I keep my expectations purposefully low to avoid heartbreak. I’ve had some great Oaxacan mole, but if I order a burrito or enchilada I’m aware that there may be far too much sauce drowning my food. I’ve learned to expect rice in my burritos even though I was raised to see that as culinary sacrilege. (Rice is just cheap filler! So wrong!)

Today I found a new Mexican comfort food, though… the “Mexican Hamburgers” at Cemitas Poblanas Don Adrian in Van Nuys. There are no burritos at Don Adrian (rice-filled or otherwise), no rolled tacos, just delicious cemitas (Mexican sandwiches from Puebla, Mexico)… and that’s more than enough. Each bite I took from the Cechina Adobada beef sandwich I ordered held an entire world of happiness. Seriously… YUM. (more…)