Beverly to La Brea, La Brea to Melrose, Melrose to Highland
Los Angeles isn’t really a morning town. It seems to wake slowly, dawdling about lazily in the chilly morning air.
I’m the same — but I had slept better than I had in weeks. Something about the night before had made me feel instantly calm, as if my old hometown was home once more. The chill was lifting off of the hills when we wandered a few blocks to breakfast at Home. Eggs, under-ripe avocado, toast.
We hit the ground running after eating — a car to Beverly and Sierra Bonita, first stop: Heath Ceramics. We touched tile we’ve only seen in photos, and mentally restocked our kitchen. Pillows and soft goods by Commune alumni, Eames-print kitchen towels, giant hand-hewn walnut bowls. Twentieth for melting chandeliers, veined stone vessels, scorched root tables. Modernica for everything Eames: fiberglass chairs, modular shelving, the Cleon Peterson daybed.
Then a clear favorite: Garde. Concrete-and-steel fruit bowls by Nicolas Schuybroek, a modern interpretation of a thousand-year-old practice. A one-off cast aluminum chair by Faye Toogood: “It’s a bargain at twenty-four. Another gallery has a similar piece at forty.” (the -thousands are implied.) Mouth-blown LED lighting by Pietro Russo, blood red beechwood-finned marble tables by Christophe de la Fontaine, ceramic chain pendants by Apparatus. I could’ve moved in — every texture perfect, every choice considered. While we were learning about Faye Toogood’s production techniques from the owner (a complete genius), a minor Instagram celebrity of mine wandered in with a friend-slash-client. “That one,” he said, pointing to the linear table lamp by Pietro Russo. The shop assistant nodded and retreated to the stockroom, while his friend retrieved a credit card from her voluminous Chanel bag and he poked at his phone. Ten minutes and $1,495 later they left — lamp picked out, paid for and spirited away with two little words.
We wandered further down Beverly in a dreamy haze, drunk on Garde. Nickey Kehoe was next: a supremely cozy home within a nondescript block. We obsessed over a massive custom shou-sugi-ban dining table and the tiny interior courtyard, festooned with Majorelle-blue chairs, bougainvillea, and a tiny koi pond. We bought a tiny cast-iron Japanese incense burner — something we’d been hunting for.
Up La Brea towards Melrose, past the kosher markets and the temples, to Lawson-Fenning — perfectly placed within a 60s office building. Ceramic totems by Heather Rosenman, vessels by Bari Ziperstein, stoneware by J. Cross. The perfect coffee table by Grain, Pepto-pink ceramic lamps by Entler, black rattan ottomans by Franco Albini.
Across the street to The Window, a “Back in 5!” post-it on the door. The owner came back shortly, burrito in hand, dog by his side. Giant Architectural Fibreglass planters, a Bayer aspirin paperweight (I have one too!), the perfect antique butcher block for one of Mark’s projects.
Enter Ivan — the very definition of brother from another mother, best friend, confidante supreme. Mark headed to a meeting, and we sped off to run errands for Ivan’s new gig — a gig that was sending him to Paris at 06:00 the next day. Apple Store for a drone and necessary accessories, Topman for black t-shirts (I’ve taught him well), Target for more black outfit staples, Jones for pizza and gossip with Mark.
As Ivan ran to a Ralph Lauren party, Mark and I wandered over to Highland for Blackman Cruz. “This is movie-star-mansion furniture,” Mark said, pointing to a boulder-slash-dining table for fourteen. “Big, expensive stuff you can talk about in magazine profiles.”
I then dragged Mark up Highland to Hollywood — location of the only Muji in L.A.. Every trip, I make him wade through the masses so I can indulge my habit. Ten B6 charcoal gray notebooks, four to-do list sticky pads, a silicone pot scrubber, an aluminum business card case.
Back to Silver Lake for a refresh, then a show at UCB Franklin — “Put Your Hands Together” by Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher. We stood in line out front for a bit, in the literal shadow of the Scientology Celebrity Center. The teens behind us couldn’t have been more Angelino:
“I took the 5 to the-“
“The 5?! Why?! You should’ve taken the...”
The show was perfect. Intimate, quiet, deeply funny — one of those L.A.-only things. Kumail Nanjiani shared his upcoming SNL monologue, in between Demetri Martin and Langston Kerman’s 8-minute sets.
After the show, we needed to eat, and the multitude of choices were narrowed down quickly to one: Zankou Chicken. We decided to walk, following a few fellow show goers past the Celebrity Center. There was a public Open House that night, but it was eerily dead — we could see Sea Org members fussing with tablecloths and adjusting umbrellas for a crowd of zero. “Good job, Leah Remini,” I mumbled to Mark as we walked past an overly-curious security guard at the gate.
Zankou Chicken is in a strip mall on Sunset, a few long blocks from Franklin and Tamarind. We walked over the 101, past empty diners and half-closed fast food joints. “Is this place worth this walk?” Mark asked. “Oh God, yes,” I replied. “Just wait.”
The pink and yellow booths at Zankou were almost totally empty. We ordered and sat down across from a giant Armenian family, their banter echoing off of the immaculate tile floor. The food was ready quickly and I sat it down in front of us, the steam billowing off of the chicken skin.
“The garlic sauce. It’s... above explanation,” I said as Mark took his first bite. I saw the recognition flow across his face, his eyes rolling back with ecstasy. We ate in silence until there wasn’t a scrap left. We meandered our the door with a paramedic duo, picking up a to-go order for the ambulance crew. An EMT popped her styrofoam box open, silhouetted against the frosted glass window as they flicked their lights and slid into traffic.
I fell asleep in the car on the way back east, my garlic-scented breath fogging the window as we cut through the dim edges of the city. That heavenly garlic fog stuck through the night, and those pink and yellow booths featured in my dreams.