Tuesday, July 22

my first roll from my holga - success!

gloria's in culver city

out of 12 exposures, i got about six that i really really liked. at least now i know my holga doesn't really have light streaks. yet.

this is gloria's cafe on venice blvd. i double exposed this shot. we had yummy pupusas and pork adobado here. and the mexican chocolate. mmm. i think i have pictures; i'll post them separately.

now, on to downtown los angeles.

hot dog cart downtown los angeles

broadway and 4th.

dress shop broadway and 4th

dress shop downtown los angeles

shoes from blends double exposed with the building across the street. 4th and main.

siamese cat!

zorro the cat. double exposed. he was laying down and when he noticed i was snapping pics of him with a blue flash, he jumped at at me (which is the predominant shot you see here).

overall, i was happy with my first roll but i felt the colors were a little washed out. i adjusted the color a little - mostly just increased the contrast. can't wait to see what my next roll is like!

Monday, July 21

holga = my new hobby

holga box

so a couple of weeks ago, destructor and i were out for a stroll when we met holga. ok so it wasn't a stroll, but an intentional afternoon of shopping/consumerism. we found holga at turntable lab on fairfax, and it looked so curious and fascinating that we had to have it. he got it for me as a gift, and i am grateful because it now gives me a new hobby and perspective on the world.


what is a holga? i'm not sure how to explain this. it's a little plastic camera - not particularly well made - that has a long history. it has a plastic lens, and captures the essence of snapshot photography. (plus, your photos come out square. isn't that enough to love it?) to me, having this camera is like being forced to travel back in time. it is the opposite of the high tech digital canon that i have. you have to get your hands dirty.

let me back up. apparently, in 1982, the russians were inspired by a little japanese camera. they based their lomo lc-a camera (the "lomo kompakt automat"!) on it and thus a whole sub-culture was ultimately born.

then (or, simultaneously?), a plastic low-tech camera was developed in hong kong. originally, this was meant for people who wanted to partake in casual photography: this was a cheap medium-format camera with all the basic mechanisms needed. this was called "ho gwong" in chinese which meant "very bright" - of course they then put a european spin on it and thus the "holga" was born! eventually the holga ended up in the hands of artsy people and institutions, its reputation gaining momentum until it officially became a part of the lomographic society.

holga starter kit

in the older/original models, there were some manufacturing defects that ironically became the reason why people loved this camera so much. the body was not constructed well, and would cause several light leaks. this gave shots taken with a holga a very distinct personality. the idea that you never knew what mood your holga was in was perplexing, challening, and fun. people always say, you could get only 1 good shot out of a whole roll while all the others are crap, or if you're lucky you might get lots of beautiful shots.

a common characteristic of these shots is the vignetting around the edges. i still haven't figured out what makes it stronger in some shots vs others. on my first roll, only 1 shot had this effect. why?? another fun thing you can do (and this works against you, too), is multiple exposures on one frame. like i mentioned, everything is super-manual. it took me 30 minutes to load my first roll into my camera. i felt like i had traveled back in time. i was afraid every little thing i was doing was going to ruin the film. i also had to cut a tiny piece of cardboard out of a random box to wedge underneath the film because it wasn't staying straight (the holga is notorious for this, which will give you shots that are crooked. not cool) anyway, you have to manually advance the film in order to go to the next shot. if you forget to do this, you will take your next shot on the same frame, causing either 1) a really creative/interesting/fun image or 2) ruining both your shots.

but the double exposure is why i love this camera. i can play with it and see what comes out later. the first time i took a photo, i felt really weird. living in a world of digital technology makes you take everything for granted. we are so spoiled - we go through life with digital confirmations. did that email go out? who called you on your cell? how did that last photo turn out? just look at the display on your digital camera.

with the holga, i clicked and got nothing. there i was standing on the street, holding what could have easily been a plastic toy, not knowing if my picture actually "registered" or how it would turn out. it gave me anxiety.

however, i got over this very quickly. it forced a perspective shift upon me. and that's what life is all about. you have to bring change onto yourself, so you can see things differently.

next up: photos from the holga AND how to pimp your holga.

Monday, July 14

fairfax @ oakwood ave


why did it take me so long to come here? after getting ethiopian food destructor and i drove up the street to check out the shops on this block. strange, i'd been here to the dime and canter's many times, but i guess that was all at night and i completely missed the surrounding shops. this block is lined with several hot boutiques for sneakers/streetwear.


can you see turntable lab? in the middle there. inside, we found something that would change my life forever! destructor picked up a holga starter kit and we couldn't take our eyes off of it. he ended up buying it for me. it took me awhile to decide what color i wanted. there was a bright red one, and another that was yellow, blue, and hot pink - which looked totally crazy altogether but i loved it.


but wait, there's more! i walked into this thrift store and was mostly uninterested until i literally had one foot out the door and something in my peripheral vision caught my eye. the glittering bags and shoes behind the counter. i found a stash of (real, i am pretty sure!) vintage chanel bags! there was a gorgeous large boxy white one, but on sale it was still $100. however, i peeked behind it and discovered a tiny light gold baby one that had the cutest shape i'd ever seen. it was marked down from $200 to $40. sold!

Thursday, July 10



i love love love ethiopian food. last week destructor and i went to merkato, a favorite of ours. whenever i come in here, i instantly feel relaxed, ready to chill over a nice slow meal. maybe it's the cozy decor or the bright umbrellas.

merkato- fish

this fish dish is amazing. the fish is lightly fried and somehow not oily at all. all the succulent flavors are sealed inside with their method of cooking. the outside is crispy and has amazing flavor. plus, you get all their vegetarian sides too.

merkato fish close up

close up of one of my favorite fish dishes in LA. it' currently #13 on the menu. get it!

merkato spongy bread

spongey bread! well, this is what i call the injera, which is a staple of ethiopian cuisine. i love merkato's because it tastes just right here. (sometimes it can be a little too sour) you use this soft pancake like substance to scoop up your food - wrap it around, eat it by itself, dip it, whatever.

merkato vegetarian combo

this is a close up of my vegetarian platter. no matter how hard i try i can't bring myself to order anything else on the menu. it comes with the following:

1. special shiro: ground peas cooked in red sauce with special spices and tomatoes
2. lentils: split lentils in red pepper sauce seasoned with assorted spices
3. collard greens: steamed and seasoned with garlic and pepper
4. yatklt alicha: steamed cabbage and potato seasoned with assorted spices
5. yekeke alicha: peas in mild sauce seasoned with spices

you'll notice the mysterious/vague reference to these secret "assorted spices". i'm not sure what they are exactly, but rest assured that it is a delicious blend of powerful, intoxicating flavors. some of the pea/lentil dishes remind me of curry. you also get a small tomato salad with this, which is basically fresh tomatoes, onions, jalapenos. really refreshing and yummy.

if you are with a group and love coffee, definitely order the ethiopian coffee. i've had it here and it's wonderful. order it in the beginning of your meal because sometimes it can take awhile (they make it fresh).

afterwards you can go up the street to the canter's area and shop at all the cool stores (next post!).

merkato ethiopian restaurant & market
1036 1/2 S Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 935-1775

Wednesday, July 9

say no to those cutters

dear honda fit:

just because you get great gas mileage with your 34 mpg does not mean you can be an atrocious human being. just because you think your car projects the belief that you are doing something good for the environment does not give you the right to cut someone off at a backed up freeway exit without so much as a thank you. not only that, but you actually had the nerve to say "what the @#$% is your problem??" in your car with your rolled up window to my face when i refused to let you in for 5 minutes. while it is true that i responded with "what the @#$% is YOUR problem?!", you should not have continued to edge your way next to me because i would have in fact let you hit my car.

yea, that's right. i saw you pull OUT of line and drive up to the exit and then try to cut in front of me. why don't you wait in line like everybody else? if you are truly someone who forgot about the exit and had to jump in late, or was in a justified rush, you are to say, "please can i cut in?" and "thank you" with universal hand gestures/facial expressions. not: "what the @#$& is your problem?"

luckily, your girl in the passenger seat was nice and stayed out of it and would not look at me. if she had, this would have further antagonized me to roll down my window. also, i went spinning this morning so i was tired/starving and had a breakfast burrito waiting for me so i didn't want to be bothered with you any futher. go ahead and cut. karma will come for you.

if anyone sees a self-righteous black honda fit driving around culver city, watch out. he may randomly try to threaten you from inside his car when he cuts you off.

Monday, July 7

@ thai food again: jitlada


saturday night. the next meal of the holiday weekend was to be at jitlada, our new favorite thai restaurant. i've never had a "favorite" thai restaurant since i've been in l.a., actually. dinner of course starts off with a beer. this was our third time here in the past 2 months. i can definitely now say that this is by far the best thai food i've had in the U.S. of course, nothing will ever compare to what i had in thailand, but i still get cravings for jitlada's food (especially the tom kha/coconut soup) all the time. if only they weren't so far away from me! (sunset and normandie?? that's like $5 round trip in gas money)

jitlada is known for their southern thai cuisine. i have two words to describe this regional food: deathly spicy. you must order from their southern thai menu on the very last page (beware: some menus are mysteriously missing this page. make sure to ask for it. click here for a link to a translation of that menu.)


we always start with the coconut soup (tom kha - currently #12 on the main menu). pictured above is the seemingly endless bowl of soup.


tom kha is coconut based and consists of mushrooms, bell peppers, and chicken (by default - but you can get shrimp instead). i love anything with coconut milk but what makes this my favorite is the tangyness of the soup. this is mostly why i love thai food: the tangy, basil-y, lemongrass-y, spicy flavors that come together for such a fulfilling eating experience. this soup is also really great paired with rice. i can seriously just eat this soup with rice and that's it.


destructor's fish. he orders a different whole fish everytime we go. today it was a pomfret. this is fried and topped with a rich, sweet chili basil sauce full of fresh garlic (i think i am drooling again as i write this).


southern thai curry 1 of 2! #8 on the southern thai menu: spicy curry with chicken and young jackfruit. the ingredients were nothing new but like most of their southern curries i think there was tumeric involved. probably not that much because i asked for them to make it mild. last time, i had the regular southern curry with tea leaves and was in so much pain from the spicyness i had to eat a plate of ice (which they gave me with the curry).


this is my friend's beef curry with cassia buds (#3). i had 1 bite and it was so spicy that everytime i took a bite of my milder curry i wanted to cry.

anyway, it's not as painful as it sounds. i very much enjoy eating spicy food except for the bloated feeling i get from drinking too much water to defuse the burning sensation.

fyi we also ordered the prig king but it was not good. that's the only thing we ordered that was "normal". i was craving green beans but really, you can get this dish anywhere so don't waste your time on that here.


finally, dessert. there are no words to describe this. "jazz" who is the owner of the restaurant told us she makes this herself (click here to read her story). mango sticky rice has a very special place in my heart. you sometimes see this at random food festivals, but that's like having panda express instead of real chinese food. the mango is perfectly ripened and warm. the rice is sweet in a subtle way (i hate super sugary stuff), with intoxicating coconut flavors. please eat this!

i can't wait to go back and try their rice salads and mango shrimp salads. i've heard great things about them.

jitlada thai restaurant
5233 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 663-3104

later that night: dancing @ jimmy's lounge





i don't know these people but they make for a good picture.


...and so, the night ended like this.

Sunday, July 6

the 4th continued: bbq at miss phd's


we finally rolled out of bed at 1pm on the 4th (after a night of confusing partying at rhonda) and after talking to some drunk friends and debating what to do for 2 hours, we headed back to the eastside to bbq at miss phd's groovy multi-colored pad (i like to think of it as caesar milan's dog community)

as you can see our bbq started with sangria. please note the very high end prestige brandy we used in the background. while destructor slaved away at the grill, we contributed by chopping fruit and soaking it in alcohol.


you may think these are some sort of gourmet sausages, but actually they're from vons and they are the jennie-o brand: hot italian turkey sausage! they were amazing. i was surprised and i am still craving them. we put them in toasted hot dog buns with mayo, mustard, onions! delicious. it wasn't all dry and gross but very well seasoned and spicy.

pork burgers

pork burgers! a favorite. miss phd modifed our recipe and it was really yummy - i think we bought lean pork or something because they almost tasted like turkey.

pork burger recipe:
1 lb ground pork
1 tbsp minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
about 2 tsp fennel - more if you want a stronger flavor

the fennel is what really does it!

minced shallots
1 egg

tiki ti

after all the sangria, beer, and food, we hung out with all the neighbor dogs in the complex. then we all headed over to tiki ti to get more drinks. we ordered delicious (and strong) tropical drinks. i normally don't like cocktails/sugary drinks but i loooved this place. i tried everyone's . the menu is extensive and i always get overwhelmed when there is a long list of cool names without descriptions. after much thought i ordered the "top secret" (bottom right) - cream soda and rum: a delectable concoction! belvedere over there in the top left is drinking a "pain killer" - a dangerous mix of...stuff.


afterwards we went back to the house to rest before going out for more adventures. we also watched some fireworks in the street and met this nice gray kitty.

early start to the 4th: rhonda in hollywood



when we arrived at midnight on thursday (technically friday the 4th!). the line was crazy, with impatient millenials trying to sneak around the back. my friend promised a good time, but due to the holiday weekend, it was crazier and pricier than usual: when we got to the front the guy with the cool haircut said, "$40 for the 4 of you." we stared at each other with sad eyes as we tried to count our cash. finally he said "how much do you have?" the 4 of us together had $25. he said, "ok."

we started upstairs: 70s music, young hipsters (what else but the american apparel kind?). it was sweaty, like the humidity in the middle of summer in houston. we sat under the best vent we could find and looked around at the kitschy mirrors and gaudy "greek" statues. i loved this place. if only it wasn't the 4th of july weekend.

then, the spilling. there is nothing worse than being spilled on by a girl with a bad outfit. she was wearing some sort of hot pink spaghetti strap tank top, with a black short sleeve mesh thing over it - the kind that had a heart pattern or something. this wasn't a normal spill. she had her beer in her hand with the opening pointed towards me, and was jumping around continuously, splashing beer on me repeatedly.

that's when we decided we needed to go downstairs. it was cooler and there weren't as many people. there was another dance floor, haphazardly established over a tiled floor. was this what it was like in the 80s? laser beams and fog machines, older hipsters (also with american apparel shirts). how many of those pieces did i see that night? fortunately, some felt that it was necessary to differentiate themselves from the aa masses by wearing a white v-neck style with blood red scribbling that read: "i am not god."


p.s. on the way out i saw a girl with NO pants. literally.

Saturday, July 5



paru's in hollywood makes you feel like you are so cool because you have to approach their white gate and get "buzzed in". thanks to miss phd who introduced me to this hidden gem.

i wish we got to sit out on the patio but it was totally booked! inside, the place is surprisingly big and cozy at the same time. it doesn't look like much from the front - just a tiny sort of ghetto building heavily armed with white gates - but when you walk in, the space is sprawling and it just keeps going.


miss phd and i split this entree. it's called the "punjab glory" on the menu and it consists of poori, papadum, raitha, and your choice of 2 vegetable curries. we chose the the spinach with lentils and the yellow split dal. i absolutely loved everything on this plate. the poori was very fresh and not too oily. the spinach was just a bit creamy but not overwhelming, and the yellow dal was perfect (i love lentils). i tried the chickpeas, cauliflower and potato, and masala dosa as well from the boys' plates and enjoyed that too. our order took awhile to come out but i think i saw a lot of people waiting. or, i'd like to think that because we requested "no cilantro" in everything, they were diligently remaking some of the stuff in the back without cilantro.