One of the most incredible things about Los Angeles is the fact that no matter how long you've lived here, there's always something new to discover. Even natives like me can find opportunities to learn about the streets, meets and sites in the city — from the old familiar landmarks we often take for granted, to the backdrops that recall formative experiences we'll never forget, to fresh new locales passed along by friends or via online recommendations, to places we haven't even been to yet but mean to check out.
Los Angeles is seductive and mysterious but it can also be comforting and communal, even as it is continuously evolving. Just when you think you know it all, and maybe even have it figured out, Waze or Google Maps will send you on a new driving route through town, where you might see an amazing old deco building you never noticed or a funky new shop you've been hearing about.
Yes, often in L.A. discovery takes place through a car window. We spend too much time on the road in our cars (and these days, Lyfts or Ubers) for sure, but I think, when you're not in a hurry, our infamous, infuriating traffic actually has a positive: It offers a moment to stop, be present and absorb the city with a new gaze.
Many of us curse new transplants and the overcrowding and gentrification that follow in their wake, but these newbies possess a special outlook that longtime residents and natives would do well to adopt. You know that flutter of excitement and possibility that comes with entering a new city? I try to find a little bit of that in my heart every time I go out. I make an effort to appreciate the colors, the warmth and the diversity that surrounds me as I “tour” my city every day, and let me tell you, it not only makes the hectic days and nights of living in L.A. a lot easier to bear but it evokes a true appreciation for it all.
I attempted to maintain the same perspective with our special Best of L.A. issue focused on culture and entertainment in Los Angeles. More “Best of” issues celebrating music, art and food & drink will be published later this year. But herein we focus on cultural amusements and things to do, buy and see, ranging from new and fresh to nostalgic and familiar, glamorous to gritty, flashy to freaky, and high to low (brow), with plenty of unique only-right-here stuff in between. Think of this issue as a tour guide that reflects the contrasts, the quirkiness, the coolness of our inimitable town.
I've been writing for the Weekly's annual Best of L.A. issue for more than half of the paper's (and my own) life, so curating and editing this one is a full-circle thing. Yes, the print edition of this issue is smaller than the ultra-thick volumes many of us remember from the past, but just as the city has changed and presented its challenges, so has the alt-weekly landscape and journalism in general. A lot of us working in the city have been forced to adapt, adjust and accept changes to do what we love, but it doesn't diminish our dedication or our drive.
For the online rollout of this issue, we'll be sharing picks for the Best of L.A. by sections, divided by entertainment (things to do, see and experience) and culture (shopping, services, landmarks and other miscellaneous “only in L.A.” stuff) in the coming days. Check back here daily for an updated list (below). There are also features from our editors spotlighting the best local movie theater food, L.A.-based internet radio stations, artful public statuary, literary-driven spoken word and tours of the city (alternative and mainstream). Enjoy this issue as an exploration, taking note and appreciation of every single “stop,” because as we all know, the best and most meaningful part of going anywhere is the journey, not the destination.
Best of L.A. Features (online now):
L.A. Is Lit: The Best Spoken-Word, Readings and Poetry in Town
Best of L.A. Culture: Groups and Troupes That Amuse and Astound
Best of L.A. Entertainment: Themed Scenes and Nightlife Niches
Best of L.A. Culture: Alternative Theater Experiences
Best of L.A. Culture: Unique Goods and Gathering Spaces