I say this as a semiprofessional curator myself, but there's something fantastically pretentious about “a curated bookstore.” Owned by Orthodox Fairfax land barons the Harkham brothers, Family Los Angeles is just such a bookstore. Affectations aside, it's not the place one goes to discover the unusual in the stacks — it's more of a temple to all the literary and art movements that affected underground culture, whilst trying to intuit the present one. But of course, being “in the know” is perilously close to becoming the mainstream arbiters of tastes that the underground sprang up to replace. When your friends are homeless and photocopying zines it's one thing, but when the featured book is Mike Mills' drawings for his “quirky” mainstream movie, it's sort of another. But no scene likes a hater, so just head there, dig in and afterward retire to a gourmet coffee shop (Intelligentsia, maybe), your copy of Robert Walser or Herman Hesse displayed not too prominently on the cafe table next to your pack of American Spirits. 436 N. Fairfax Ave., Mid-City. (323) 782-9221, familylosangeles.com.

—Andrew Berardini

LA Weekly