Chain Reaction faces retirement

CIVIC CENTER — The Chain Reaction sculpture has become the focal point of public attention once again after two decades as a relative wallflower as city staff recommends removing it from Santa Monica’s public art collection. The Arts Commission and its Public Art Committee will have a special joint meeting Wednesday to discuss... Read more →


Eating alone has its benefits

With the weather being as unseasonably pleasant as it has been, I have found myself riding my bike solely to bask in this glorious warmth. A stop into the 17th Street Cafe & Bakery was for no reason other than the fact that I was hungry, and I was on the corner of 17th Street and Montana Avenue. Arriving at 4:30 p.m., well after a late... Read more →


‘The Water’s Edge’ a bit enigmatic

As Winston Churchill might describe it, Theresa Rebeck's play “The Water's Edge” is “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” There are more mixed emotions, contradictions, outright lies, duplicity, passion and chills in this dramatic masterpiece than in any play you're likely to see in this decade. The theme... Read more →


Review: ‘Our Town’ comes alive at the Broad

There must be at least half a dozen people in L.A. who have never seen Thornton Wilder's classic play, “Our Town.” If you are one of them, you couldn't do better than the production that opened last week at the Broad Stage. Helmed by Helen Hunt as the stage manager, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play chronicles the daily life and... Read more →


Coffee made with care

Patrolling the Santa Monica streets with fellow food writer Merv Hecht, a hot lead brought us to the Yahoo! Center on the east side of town. The complex is a major business hub with some high profile tenants like HBO, Apple and, of course, Yahoo. The massive structure has many amenities, but all inconspicuously self contained. So if you are... Read more →


Old timers, Vol. 4: Casa Escobar

When my dad first tasted pizza around 1950, he proclaimed it a fad that would disappear soon. Years later he would proclaim his love of American food, things like pizza and tacos. It certainly is true that many foreign foods have become mainstream American, and in Southern California, Mexican imports might be number one on the list. That... Read more →


By golly, it’s ‘Molly’

As Gertrude Stein once said about Oakland, “There's no THERE there.” And you might say the same for the Geffen Playhouse's production of “Red Hot Patriot, The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins.” Ivins, the rambunctiously liberal Texas journalist, was a latter-day Will Rogers, famous for deriding the pompous, the... Read more →


Magical mystery tour through Turkey

I am about to enter the country where Agatha Christie wrote “Murder on the Orient Express.” The magnetic pull of this historic destination and the idea that Marc Anthony gave the Turkish Riviera to Cleopatra for a wedding gift makes me lose track of my present reality. I am entering Turkey, a country like no other. This magical... Read more →


Movie review: A marriage gone awry

“A Separation” is probably one of the best films of the year. But it should come with a warning label, because it is not for the faint of heart. It is so intense that it can tie your stomach in knots, and you may have a hard time breathing. A woman a few seats from me sobbed through the whole thing. The film is a slice-of-life, or... Read more →


Classic burgers served with a tiki twist

If you take a look back on the burger timeline in Santa Monica, somewhere along it the classic hamburger slowly transformed into an elaborate gastronomic experience. Nowadays, ambitious burger purveyors are showcasing newfangled creations that all too often are just abominations on a bun. The newly opened Shaka Shack in Sunset Park makes... Read more →


Movie mogul’s moxie makes for mayhem

THIRD STREET PROMENADE — For most people trying to film a martial arts epic, transporting a busload of bewildered Japanese tourists instead of your own actors to your movie set might seem to be a bit of a setback, to put it mildly. For Fred Weintraub, it was just another day on the job. In his memoir, “Bruce Lee, Woodstock and... Read more →


Is marijuana causing my son to be a deadbeat?

Dear New Shrink, My husband and I are very worried about our son. He is in his mid 20s, has had an excellent education, but all that he seems to be interested in is staying up late to play video games and sleeping until noon. He hasn’t gotten a job, doesn’t even look for one; he also doesn’t seem to be interested in having a... Read more →


Drago Santa Monica says ‘ciao’

WILSHIRE BLVD — After 21 years of serving Santa Monica, Italian restaurant Drago will be packing up its pans and closing its doors by the end of this month. “It’s been an absolutely wonderful run in Santa Monica,” said owner Chef Celestino Drago, who opened the restaurant in 1991 and has operated it ever since. The... Read more →


Hits, misses at Stop’n Cafe

Fellow food reviewer Michael Ryan and I were strolling along the Santa Monica Promenade when we saw the sign “Greek Food.” A lovely young woman smiled at us and invited us in. When we learned that the restaurant — Stop’n Cafe — had been there for 25 years, we were encouraged. Is the promenade that old? I love... Read more →


At 115, Davies still the life of the party

BEACH HOUSE — The staff and docents at the Annenberg Community Beach House will open the facility’s doors on Sunday for a birthday celebration for its most famous resident — Marion Davies. Davies, who would have been 115 on Jan. 3, was best known as a silent film actress and as the mistress of media magnate William... Read more →