Kevin ScanlonIn modern-day Los Angeles, where many venues have closed due to the recession, how does a teenage girl manage to start her own nightclub and turn it into one of Hollywood's coolest hangouts?
Kevin ScanlonA junior, Matt Barkley was thought to be on the verge of leaving to earn millions in the NFL. In fact, during the previous two-year sanction period, many had speculated that Barkley would bolt to a scandal-free school. Instead, the square-jawed, handsome QB stuck around to help rebuild his troubled team.
Kevin ScanlonCaroline Roman and Lauren Brokaw's site has a fondness for velvet ropes, routinely covering invitation-only parties and fashion events and chronicling unauthorized VIP tours at Disneyland. (There's a secret, members-only restaurant called Club 33. Who knew?)
Kevin ScanlonYou do not want to mess with the "Glamberts." Adam Lambert's superfans eat up everything written about the singer, and Lord help a writer if it's not 100 percent positive. They will defend their man to the death.
Kevin ScanlonLast year things were about as bleak as could be for the Dodgers. The team finished third in its division and, off the field, the McCourt drama weighed heavily on fans and players alike. Amidst the chaos, though, Matt Kemp got better. Much better. In 2011, the 6-foot-3-inch center fielder became one of the most dominant players in the game. He knocked in 39 home runs and 126 RBIs, batted third in the All-Star Game's starting lineup and finished second in the National League's MVP voting.
Kevin ScanlonBenjamin Millepied is a warmly accommodating interview, just not chatty. He's protective. No questions about his private life, he warns, even though his personal and artistic lives are still mixed together.
Kevin ScanlonThe first conversation Uglydoll creators David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim ever had was about the meaning of the word "ugly." Ugly means unique, interesting, different. Ugly, they decided, is good.
Kevin ScanlonWhen RJ Mitte first moved to Los Angeles at 13, he never imagined he'd be an actor. "Sometimes I think about where I'd be right now if I weren't doing this," he says. "I'd be on a boat somewhere. Fishing!"
Kevin ScanlonKaty Goodman makes breakup albums, but one suspects the 27-year-old singer-songwriter is a heartbreaker; she certainly has inspired the adoration of breathless indie boys around the country, first with her Brooklyn trio, Vivian Girls, and now with her solo act, La Sera.
Kevin ScanlonMeg Gill is not a Bud Light girl. The Golden Road Brewing co-founder, 27, has had to correct this assumption time and again. The good-old-boy network within the beer industry has nothing on customers at promotional events, convinced that any young woman in attendance must be trading on her femininity to push a product. She prefers IPAs.
Kevin ScanlonAlice Bag busted up the punk-rock patriarchy in September 1977. Sure, other L.A. punk bands like The Alleycats and The Eyes had female bassists who occasionally sang a lick or two, but her band, The Bags, were the first with a frontwoman -- and a bisexual Chicana frontwoman at that.
Kevin ScanlonHave you heard of Bronies? They're grown men, often the same guys who obsess over comic book superheroes and sci-fi movies, who are rabid fans of My Little Pony. Lauren Faust is essentially responsible for that phenomenon.
Kevin ScanlonIf you've been to the website of a buzzy new tech startup in the last few years -- Groupon, Airbnb, Square -- chances are you've seen the work of Adam Lisagor. Not just his short videos, which are passed around the Internet to promote and teach you how to use these products, but also Lisagor himself, the 34-year-old creative director who stars in them. He's the guy in the thick-rimmed glasses and frizzy beard, an uber-accessible Everyman who walks you through a complicated idea with refreshingly deadpan yet thoroughly earnest delivery.
Kevin Scanlon"Ni**as in Paris," last year's most popular song, exploded in roughly the same amount of time that its producer spent creating it. "It took me probably 15 minutes to make that beat, and it changed my life," Hit Boy says of the ubiquitous, deliciously bass-heavy beat.
Kevin ScanlonPilar Díaz probably is best known as Lady P, frontwoman of the now-defunct Spanglish alt-pop group Los Abandoned, which formed in L.A. in 2001 and took inspiration from acts like Fishbone, Red Hot Chili Peppers and No Doubt. "They had that mix of genres, which is what I think Los Angeles stands for," Díaz says of her influence
Kevin ScanlonAs a self-described "guard dog" for Kogi, Alice Shin considers it her duty to protect the family business, which survived an attempted buyout by Baja Fresh, and earned success via the popularity of its roaming taqueria.
Kevin ScanlonKit Quinn and Tallest Silver keep their legal names off the record. The best friends' fear is that, as their images circle the web, boundaries blur. Online, strangers want to get too personal. And they've already been recognized at stores and amusement parks.
Kevin ScanlonWhat most upsets Nyesha Arrington isn't a lack of technical perfection. "If someone's lacking heart, that's what gets me more than anything else. There are 10 people behind that person who would die to have a job on the line. I want to work with people like that, people who inspire me. Otherwise, why are we doing this?
Kevin ScanlonBill Simmons has lost 15 pounds. He's sleeping less. His hair has gone gray. All for a website. "It's more work than I thought it was going to be," he says of Grantland, the ambitious sports and pop culture site he started last June.
Kevin ScanlonNew Girl is the creation of 30-year-old Liz Meriwether, who based Deschanel's character Jess -- a gorgeous but almost pathologically quirky young woman who moves into a loft shared by three dudes -- on herself.
Kevin ScanlonConsidering she leads her own militia, Christy Roberts is surprisingly charming in person. The Upland native isn't exactly secretive about her plans for global rebellion, but then again, this former high school cheerleader is hardly your garden-variety survivalist.
Kevin ScanlonKelli L. Sager doesn't seem intimidating. With her face framed by soft brown bangs, her warm manner evokes her small-town upbringing in Wenatchee, Wash. But some magnolias can be as tough as steel. Named on every short list of top First Amendment attorneys in California, she fiercely believes cameras must be allowed in courts so "people can see the judicial system at work. The last thing you want with celebrities is a decision that says they have privacy rights the rest of us don't."
Kevin ScanlonLuigi Francis Rossi -- better known as Shorty, titular star of the Animal Planet "docudrama" Pit Boss -- was not, as some have said, "made for television." His recently released memoir, Four Feet Tall and Rising, is, as one fan put it, "an amazing must-read for anyone interested in showbiz, pit bull rescue, dwarfism and how to make pruno" -- aka prison wine.
Kevin Scanlon"You can go the route of feeding the rich," Gill Boyd acknowledges. "I could've gone that route years ago, but I said, 'You know what, that's not really for me.' My wife and I have eaten at three-star Michelin restaurants, and I enjoy it, but that's not my mission."
Kevin ScanlonNerdist's flagship weekly show is called The Meltdown, which Emily Gordon produces and Kumail Nanjiani co-hosts. It has quickly become the best event at the coolest alternative room in the city: Rising talent appears alongside such alt-comedy superstars as Patton Oswalt, Aziz Ansari and Louis C.K., and admission costs only eight bucks.
Kevin ScanlonRaw, corroborated information is important to Li Fellers. She's a private investigator in the employ of Public Interest Investigations, a crusading gang of trained lawyers and journalists who do the legwork on civil rights and criminal cases, from Agoura Hills to Abu Ghraib.
Kevin ScanlonMayita Dinos' soft hands belie the fact that she's dug through acres of stubborn subsoil on a one-woman crusade to mulch, harrow and hoe as much of Los Angeles as possible. She's a key influencer in the band of pioneers who introduced sustainable gardening to this arid land, helping turn low-water landscaping into a major trend.
Kevin ScanlonCarrie Fisher was wondering recently what to do with the huge Princess Leia painting -- "in that fucking iron bikini" -- that George Lucas sent her for her birthday. "I'm sure it was regifted," she says in a voice just short of booming.
Kevin ScanlonWhen Keith Black was 8 years old, his mom caught him dissecting a chicken heart by the side of their house. Instead of reprimanding the boy, Black's dad brought him home a cow heart the following week. In 10th grade, Black performed his first surgery; at 17, he performed his first organ transplant.
Kevin ScanlonJay McAdams and his wife, Debbie Devine, the venue's artistic director, are gringos who produce Spanish-language plays. Their productions have toured in Mexico and El Salvador, but their home base is this former carriage house in the working-class West Adams district, about a mile from the University of Southern California.
Kevin ScanlonWhen he was named dean of religious life at USC, Varun Soni became the first Hindu in American history to serve such a role. Soni sees USC through an unusual lens: "We have more student religious groups and campus religious directors than any university in the country," and while that atmosphere can be highly charged, "each challenge also offers a potential learning moment."
Kevin ScanlonAnyone willing to open a jazz club these days must be a little crazy, but if Joon Lee is nuts, he's doing a great job of hiding it. In fact, since its late 2009 debut in Little Tokyo, his venue, Blue Whale, has become the go-to spot for new and emerging jazz artists from around the world.
Kevin Scanlon"Being a cook was out of the question," Gary Menes says of his childhood aspirations. The reason: his father. And why do you suppose Menes' father wanted him to become something, anything, other than a cook? Because, of course, he was one himself.
Kevin ScanlonThe debut of Post & Beam, chef Govind Armstrong's Baldwin Hills restaurant -- which he had the chutzpah to open on New Year's Eve, of all nights -- was billed as a homecoming. Talented, telegenic and born in nearby Inglewood, Armstrong was tailor-made to star in a "local boy makes good" fable -- except that he is as local to Central America as he is to Inglewood.
Kevin ScanlonWe have a "moral obligation to be thinking of where humanity is going," says entrepreneur and brainiac humanitarian Dr. Peter Diamandis. And if he has anything to do with it, humanity is going places that are both interstellar and off-world.
Kevin ScanlonWhen in character as his alter ego, Jonny Coffin, Jonny Edwards sports a black trench coat, gloves and a top hat. With his flowing dark hair, chiseled features and dramatic makeup, he exudes an aura of sinister mystery.
Kevin ScanlonLalo Alcaraz is best known for his comic strip "La Cucaracha," which had a home at the Weekly for years but now is nationally syndicated. The cartoon is a send-up of iconic Mexican stereotypes -- Speedy Gonzalez, a man snoozing under a sombrero -- with biting commentary on the continued subjugation of Mexican-Americans.
Kevin ScanlonThe girl with the pretty face and the big ass -- that's what they called model Rosie Mercado in high school. To become a model, she didn't lose the weight. She embraced it. Mercado is 5 feet 9 inches and weighs 293 pounds. She actually weighed 350 pounds when she was chosen to be the face of Full Figured Fashion Week 2010, barely a year after she started modeling.
Kevin ScanlonJenna Marbles, as she now calls herself, posts weekly to her YouTube channel, which has 2.9 million subscribers (No. 6 on the site), and almost half a billion views. Most of her fans are teenage girls, who relate to her foul-mouthed, brutally straightforward comedy sketches on the plight of young womanhood.
Kevin ScanlonIn 1993, Luis J. Rodriguez published a book about fighting his way through the mean streets of East L.A. He wrote about friends he'd lost to gang warfare, drugs he'd snorted, girls he'd screwed. And he wrote about how art, and activism, had saved him.
Last year, Simon & Schuster published the sequel: It Calls You Back.
Kevin ScanlonWearing a ruffled dress and cardigan, Gaby Moreno snacks on a red velvet cookie and explains her obsession with retro blues music. "I'm sort of stuck on anything from the '20s to the '60s," she says.
Kevin ScanlonGrowing up in a Korean-American family in Hawaii, Paula Daniels had a precocious awareness of the natural environment. When her 12-year-old friends made "slam books," soliciting salacious opinions about their classmates, Daniels focused her book's questions on water conservation. "Mine asked, 'Do you turn off the water when you brush your teeth?'"
Kevin ScanlonAlways interested in "peculiarities and unusual things that are off the mainstream," Andreas Mitisek has had a hand in presenting nontraditional operas since he was an influential member of Vienna's anti-State Opera "free scene" movement.
Kevin ScanlonPhil Pavel's parents begged him not to go to Northwestern University. They feared that, as the son of a gas-meter reader from Chicago's working-class South Side, he'd be uncomfortable surrounded by rich kids. The irony is not lost on Pavel. As general manager of the famed Chateau Marmont hotel on Sunset Boulevard, for the last 16 years he's done nothing but cater to the rich and reckless.
Kevin ScanlonTo call Michelle Miller an outstanding student athlete would be an understatement. In February she finished her high school basketball career with 3,331 points -- 435 more than those accumulated by former Los Angeles Sparks superstar Lisa Leslie during her years at Morningside High.
Kevin ScanlonThe crowd adores Denise Hunter. Throughout her husband Rev. John Hunter's sermon, titled "We Really Do Have Choices" ("He got that from me," she says later), two big-screen TVs above the pulpit often zoom in on Hunter's regal face in aisle two, as if she's a celebrity at a Lakers game.
Kevin ScanlonEight is considered a particularly lucky number in Chinese culture, so Bertha "Bert" Chan's 88th birthday on Feb. 8 should have signaled the beginning of her most fortuitous year. Instead, she found herself covered in shingles on New Year's Day and suffered a heart attack as soon as she had healed enough to return to her studio to resume teaching tap dancing. But Chan isn't hung up on age, and she doesn't exactly fit a traditional Chinese mold, either. "Chinese don't tap; they do martial arts," she quips.
Kevin ScanlonSue Falsone is still getting used to being first. The interview requests have been coming in ever since October, when Falsone was named head athletic trainer for the Los Angeles Dodgers -- the first woman to hold that title in any professional sports league.
Kevin ScanlonWhen Ricardo Diaz and Armando DeLaTorre set up Guisados on Cesar Chavez Avenue, it wasn't simply another taqueria in a city -- and neighborhood -- dense with them. It was the culinary and cultural merger of two established Boyle Heights families.
Kevin ScanlonGrowing up in Louisiana in the 1950s, Liz McDuffie's only relief from debilitating migraines was pushing her skull against the headboard of her bed to release pressure. As an adult, the headaches continued to plague her, to the point that her only refuge was a dark room and a bag of ice.Then, one day in 1969, on the advice of a doctor she met while teaching in Germany, she tried hashish. For the first time, she was able to function without the throbbing pain.