Off The Record is a recurring, feature here on the Drunkard, that marries two of my greatest interests; music and travel. Having a locals perspective when visiting a new locale is the difference between experiencing it through the lens of a tourist and of that of a native.
Off The Record gathers some of my favorite artists, asks them to reflect on their city of residence, and choose a handful of places they could not live without, be them bookstores, bars, restaurants or vistas.
This week we catch up with Ryan, from Division Day, who waxes on his favorite Los Angeles go-to spots, and laments the loss of an Eastside L.A. music institution. Division Day’s album Beartrap Island was just re-released this Tuesday, with an additional two tracks, by Eenie Meenie Records. Look for the band on tour this Fall, and at CMJ.
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from Ryan in DIVISION DAY
1. La Abeja – A friend of mine turned me on to this place in Highland Park about a year and a half ago and now I can’t imagine not having it around. Picture unfinished concrete floors, 70’s wood paneling on the walls, perennial Christmas decorations, and a shrine made of three stooges merchandise behind the counter and you’ve got an idea of the ambience they’ve got going on. It’s a family operation, and the people that run it are incredibly friendly. I’ve become sort of a regular there, since I’m usually in once a week for the huevos rancheros, which are the best I’ve ever had. Last week when it rained, I went by myself and enjoyed a meditative meal in one of the booths, but it’s the type of hideaway-place I take pleasure in sharing with great friends.
2. Swork - Everybody has to have their neighborhood coffee shop, and this is mine. My poison lately has been their iced americano. I have to credit Kevin for turning me on to this: cheaper than an iced coffee, but stronger and better tasting – genius! Swork also makes a pretty mean dirty chai, which is my indulgent pleasure. Since it’s halfway in between my house and our rehearsal space, rare is the day I’m not pulled in by its caffeine tractor beam on my way to practice.
3. Trader Joe’s – Predictable? Yes. For a good reason? Yes. I’m lucky to have one right down the street from me and I’m probably there at least once a day. I like to get the pre-packaged salads for lunch. Right now I’m really into the artichoke and hearts of palm salad – mmm. Their peanut butter filled pretzels are addiction incarnate.
4. Edendale - An old firehouse, turned moderately-swanky bar & grill, Edendale is sort of the default meeting place after the sun goes down on days ending in “Y” that fall on and between Thursday and Sunday. If you go on a Sunday or Thursday, you’ve pretty much got the place to yourself after 11. Great outdoor patio areas, amazing bartenders, great selection, and good company (I would say “great company” but it really depends on who you come with or how many drinks you’ve had). I’ve heard that Harry Nilsson’s ghost hangs out there, or wait, was it really Harry Nilsson… nah, can’t be.
5. Griffith Park – We were on the road a few months back when a good deal of the park burned in a fire. I remember seeing that on the news in some motel lobby and thinking that the whole city was in danger of being burned, but luckily it was only the green parts that burned. The infinite miles of concrete sprawl were spared. I think most Angelenos know the best time to come here is a day in October after a rain (and after you’ve had your coffee and huevos rancheros, and maybe stopped in at St. Vincent DePaul). After only a moderate hike, you’re treated to some really spectacular views of the city, unobscured by the usual smog-cover. It’s definitely one of those rare vantage points that allows you to have that “ah, this is why I love LA” moments that we all love, yet are so few and far between.
++ Honorable Mention: Sea Level Records – I would say I couldn’t live without it, but sadly I’m being forced to, since it went out of business earlier this year. The LA music community lost a great friend when Sea Level closed its doors, but you can still find the store’s #2 (sorry Todd!) employee, Todd, out and about enjoying his new part time position as International Man of Leisure.
Elsewhere: Surfing On Steam’s History of Division Day
MP3: Division Day :: Bad Black Moon
MP3: Division Day :: Colorguard
Amazon: Division Day – Beartrap Island