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Thursday, December 19, 2013

I Spent a Day Exploring Jamie Lee Curtis Taete's Gwyneth Paltrow's Los Angeles

by Jonathan Bilski, Editor-in-chief

Jamie Lee Curtis
Late last week, Vice Magazine's West Coast Editor and constant hater of LA, Jamie Lee Curtis Taete, was pissed off again by another human being. This time it was Gwyneth Paltrow's Mom, Blythe Danner, on a quote she gave about how people criticize her daughter. From that he some how decided to go after Gwyneth to see if he hated her or not in a half-a**ed stalker kind of way. On his Twitter Taete said "Because I'm not afraid to go after the difficult targets, I wrote a thing making fun of Gwyneth Paltrow." Here it is.

My gut feeling was that Taete's words would lead to another article about him hating LA, a constant of the universe. I already had a growing animosity towards him for the constant bashing of LA. I could think of many reasons why I disliked him.

As he wrote in his own article, "don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes." So, in order to better understand Taete, wait... Jamie Lee Curtis is the first part of his name? Why didn't he change it to Jamie Curtis Taete, something easy, that no one would make fun of? Now, I'm thinking of Jamie Lee Curtis and the movies she's been in. Anyway, I decided to follow where he went.

Sadly, Jamie Lee Curtis decided to spend a day following Gwyn's life based on her app, Goop City Guides. Goop is Gwyn's lifestyle brand and the app is a new connection with places Gwyn likes to visit and Jamie Lee Curtis, a non-gay man, decided to follow it out of spite.

Many of the places that he visited I had already been to countless times. He cut into them one by one with snarky attitude and the best jokes he could muster, not talking to anyone at the stores, not another shopper, owner or employee. He acted like a loner completely withdrawn in his own world. Here in LA you can talk to people, ask questions and be a real g-d damn reporter.

So, I decided to retrace his steps and spend Sunday revisiting the shops and businesses he so easily passed judgment on.

First stop on the Jamie Lee Curtis' hate train was Yolk.

1626 Silverlake Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

I hadn't been in a while.  On that Sunday morning it was alive with customers in its corner of Silverlake. The bright happy-go-lucky store had plenty of treasure to discover inside. I could just talk about the Lamy pen section, and the wonders of well-made writing instruments for this part. However, I chatted with manager Tori Senatore about the neighborhood gift store. That's what she called it when I asked her to describe it. "It's for the Mom and family in the area with a nice home feeling," said Senatore.

Senatore after joking with a customer about the meaning of the store after my questioning showed me around. First was the kid's section towards the back where I was shown the French line of Djeco arts and craft kits, puzzles and games, their top sellers for kids. You won't find a PS4 here, the toys are for a much younger set.

There are adult toys, get your mind out of the gutter. I mean desk toys, home decor, those shiny Lamy pens that fit oh so nicely away in your pocket that can be taken out and awed out by other writers.

When you enter, your greeted with a huge selection of gifts to get from home decor to office, some local, some imported, but a vast collection. Senatore took me over to a felt trivet, a rainbow of colors to pick up the hot things in your home, the best seller so far the season for adults.

Some giant felt trivets in the shape of autumn leaves caught my eye as well, before glancing over at the Sisters of Los Angeles section, from three local female artists. A line featuring many fine products that remind me of LA. Drink out of a glass with your favorite freeway or beloved part of the city on it.

Senatore told how Yolk got painted for an opening launch of the Sisters of Los Angeles. A nice bright look for a bright store on Sunset.

Soon I was off, pen addiction abided for now.

Not that far a drive away was Intelligentsia coffee house, not in the theme of any rebel movement where only the intelligent rule.

3922 West Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90029

I arrived to a young girl being dropped off for a study session at Intelligentsia. She happily ran off with books in tow. Many folks were outside having conversations while drinking, so many different faces and strange hair styles. The line was out the door, but moving fast. Staff dressed like it was the 1920's, dress shirts, suspenders ready to take the incoming orders.

In line for a cup, I asked Michael and Robyn Schanzlin what they would be having and why they liked the place. "Angleno," they said, "So foamy and frothy, an ice coffee." They came because, "We live nearby and it's really good when you want to spend for a cup, " added Michael.

The rich smells of coffee stayed with me as I entered the nearby Cheese Store with much different scents,  not affiliated with the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, that's a longer story, but let's say the two don't get along.

3926 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029
323- 644-7511

The Cheese Store wasn't on Jamie Lee Curtis' list, maybe he's one of those suffering from lactose intolerance. Gwyn might have not had it on her app. In either case, he missed out on sampling cheese and oils to dip bread into. The store has rare cheeses and imported food luxuries.  I once got honey with honeycomb still in it for my Father's birthday there once.

If you ever needed something to stand out at a party for the foodies of your friends you couldn't go wrong with this cheese store.

Next, we have Forage.

3823 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Sunday-Monday  Closed

Sadly, Forage was closed on Sunday. I would have liked to sampled what Jamie Lee Curtis detailed, but he himself didn't try and instead merely bought a cookie and a coffee. Forage allows customers to bring in their own vegetables to be used for the restaurant dishes. A second of research online told me it's a family-owned and locally run.

Next was Secret Headquarters, not on the list, but it's hard to pass up one of the best looking comic stores in LA. With both all the big name books, but indie titles and art shows every so often as well. The store welcomes those who are long time fans and anyone starting out in comics with the decor of gentleman's club found in England.

3817 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

Next door was its sister store Vacation.

3815 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Here I headed to the back to see an employee who happened to be the owner/ manager Mark Thompson. He jokingly told me I could interview him if I helped sort the vinyl LP's he was going through. Hunched over he chatted with me about running the store and the neighborhood. Mark stops first and jokes about an Evangelist album he picks up of a family that looks so fake and proper it's scary.

"It's a neighborhood vinyl shop, new and used, heavier into rock," Mark tells me. I point to a title of Sex Machine and some of the other crazy titles, but he has to stop sorting  LP's and help a customer out as he has no other employees that day.

He's the only other person on my list I tell about my article being based on Jamie Lee Curtis' unhappy mess. He gets a little emotional, even though retracing the earlier article nothing negative is said about his store, just that it only sells vinyl, which technically isn't true, I saw some tapes.

Mark remembers Jamie Lee Curtis coming in for the "article". "He came in, took a picture, then left."

He asked to be quoted, "If you don't like it, don't come here, don't be a brat."

Mark seemed more angry that his fellow neighborhood stores were snarky attacked, not that his place was even mentioned and tells me it's just Vice's style to act that way to get attention. He recommended I stop by the local The Black Cat, now missing its Space Invader art, for a bite to eat.

3909 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029
323 -661-6369

I couldn't stop just yet and headed to the Mohawk General Store.

4011 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029
323- 669-1601

A hug and good-bye greet me as the employees are helping customers. I'm informed that this a women's store for vintage items and gifts by the employees. The owners wanted it to feel like an extension of someone's living room and it does feel that comfy. The style inside is almost to relaxing, the music in the background, the smell of scented candles.

Why a grown man would go in other than getting a gift for a girl puzzles me? Jamie Lee Curtis is obviously not loved by any women or wouldn't pay for something so nice for a lady of the night from this store.

If he talked to someone he might have been led down to Mohawk Man two doors down.

4017 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029

Chasen Laidler, a good looking male employee, was telling me about his French imported crème blue and white striped shirt. I was soon over my head in the world of this high-end men's fashion store.  Chasen went over how the place sells luxury items, gets imports and clientele of many traveling business men who want products from abroad.

Chasen expanded that the store was only open for 6 months and a Pasadena store just opened.

What grabbed me with a sense of humor were the big portraits of Jockeys on the walls. Taken by a local artist, the collection is a reminder of wealth with sports. To me it was tiny men in brightly colored uniforms, but to each their own.

Next would be the most magical of the stores, it had a unicorn.

8384 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Tweak was busy with shoppers. I passed by a gift wrapping center on the way in and thought it was something like Spencer's Gifts. I was wrong when I saw the Star Wars cookbook with ice sabers, pieces to have frozen popsicles look like light sabers. Then a notebook with nun-chucks embossed on the cover.

Soon enough, I was talking to the owner, Tara Riceberg. Tara was kind enough to show me her unicorn. Upfront in the store window this season you'll see an Astro-Unicorn with Astro-gnomes. I might be wrong and it could be a space unicorn.

Tara is all over the place when I'm talking to her. She's truly in love with her business. She made the Unicorn that's in front of us as she goes over all the info she can with way more enthusiasm than anyone I've talked too so far.

The business started in 2011 and was showing no signs of stopping with how busy it was on a Sunday in December with Christmas coming. Tara spouts, "...connecting, clever and purposeful design, " as she hits her palm to her head like a V8 commercial about finding the right gifts for everyone.

Tara says she only buys from small companies and if from the bigger ones she has to meet a representative to see if they're own the level. She shares she's also fond of museum gift shops.

We then go back inside where she shows me some of her favorite products, which none have a price on. If you want to know the price you have to talk to somebody at the store and interact with them.

I show Tara the devilishly funny Devil Match Striker by Jonathan Adler that caught my gaze when I first entered. She's distracted by another customer before she can stop another customer from testing it out. She asks, with an altered tone to the man who just tried to set a small fire, "Did you just try and set a match and burn down my store?" He replied,  "Yes" and was quickly made fun of as the matches in the Devil's head weren't real, but store props, only there to look nice. He was also about to buy it anyway and it happened to be the last one.

James W., the man who almost set Tweak ablaze was well acquainted with Tara as was his wife. "It has cool funky gifts,"  he told me shortly after also implicating his wife for trying to use the Devil striker in the store.

Tara was happy they tried it, "The store is meant for people to touch and try things," she told me as she played with Kinetic Sand. A kind of cleaner sand you can put on your desk at work and play with when you stressed out. Then she shot a marshmallow across the store with the Hanz Marshmallow Catapult, assembly required.

She mentioned having golden tickets, gift certificates for $25, like Willy Wonka inside certain game items in the store for the holidays season while showing me even more things I might enjoy.

"I have a kidult store," she said. A store for kids and for adults who want to act like kids.

Feal Mor was next on the list. Sadly, it's shut down and a new store is set to open in Claremont, CA this Fall.

Claremont, CA - opening this fall

Off to a well known high-end American Rage Cie.

150 S. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

American Rag Cie has been visited by me before.  It's high end fashion, you might find your favorite pair of anything inside. Jeans paradise might be a better name, but that's only one section of this huge clothing store. Andrew L. one of the managers was easy enough to talk to about the place. Comprised of three sections: new merch, vintage and the world denim bar.

I stopped him and told him to go over the world denim bar. It's 81 brands from around the world of jeans. Take your time to find the most perfect pair from across the world. If not into jeans there's still the other sections of all different kinds of clothing from hats and shoes to jackets.  You even have  CD's, books to get and a diner nearby to eat something after you've been clothes shopping.

This place has special brands only it can receive or only a few shops in LA will carry.

Andrew went into the process of how hard it is for any of the vintage gear getting to the place and how certain people have the job to find it. He added, American Rag had been around for twenty years with the denim bar coming in for only twelve of them.

Inside the store is not a cheery Target, but a more laid back place you wish meetings were held. Meetings to go on safaris or battle a bond villain.

Sadly, next on the list Jonathan Wright and Company are closed on Sundays.

7404 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90036
Sundays- Closed

I did call earlier in the week and discover Jonathan Wright is a real person and not just a made up name. He just stepped out. It's a card shop and stationery store, so if you need invitations you might to drop by.

Far out from Sunset and West Hollywood was Gjelina Take Away in Venice.

1427 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
Gjelina Take Away is connected to Gjelina another omission from Jamie Lee Curtis.

1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
(310) 450-1429

Gjelina is supposedly a celebrity spot said a random passerby when I came by it that night. As I was taking pictures of the place Daniel Beadman was giving me tips on how to shoot it. A local photographer and patron he was holding on to two tiny dogs. Soon Daniel was trying to remember every detail about the place. Thinking hard he was telling me about its three owners how it's named after one of their mothers. That it has Chef Travis Lett and fresh ingredients.

Beadman could not be stopped. "Just get a piece,"  he was telling me to grab a slice instead of a whole pizza if I was hungry from the take-away section.

If you want to spend more and dine in you go to Gjelina, if you want to grab and go you go for the Take Away, both were busy on Sunday night.

Andaz was open, however they have a stance on talking without PR present so there wouldn't be any reason to visit without an PR escort who sadly was already busy and out Sunday.

8401 Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069

As Jamie Lee Curtis already lives in LA it's a bit odd why he even bothered spending a night in a hotel then writing a measly three short paragraphs about it.

From a few reviews I've read online the main reason to go is the view of Sunset and the city. Unless your cheating on your significant other there's not much reason to visit for a local.

That day I also saw the local Venice Canals Christmas Parade thanks to where GTA was on the map. Tiny boats with Christmas decorations passed by me and it was kind of magical seeing their Christmas lights reflect in the water.

When walking back to my car I saw a sealed plastic bag of deli meat that had been rotting out in the sun during the day. It was a disgusting bag of meat that was no longer edible and was close to putrefying. Which, if you think about it, is kind of the perfect metaphor for Jamie Lee Curtis and everything he stands for.