All posts by thommills

Found in Beverly Hills, er, Los Angeles

In Los Angeles you can buy your window replacements at Beverly Hills Glass on Pico Blvd., purchase your seating at Beverly Hills Chairs on Westwood Blvd. and drive off with a fancy set of wheels from Beverly Hills Unique Sports Cars on La Brea.

All of which can be found in Los Angeles, not Beverly Hills.

Need hormone replacement therapy or perhaps some hair replacement? Make a trek to Beverly Hills Rejuvenation Center. Looking for something cuddly to hug? Call Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Company. Pipes gone bad? Call Beverly Hills Plumbing Supply. You’ll find all three of them but they won’t be in Beverly Hills. They pay taxes to the city of L.A.

Apparently the Beverly Hills name carries some serious clout, even when it has nothing to do with the actual Beverly Hills.

Okay, Beverly Hills BMW, I get. They actually started out there before relocating east to their swanky new showroom on Wilshire near Highland, which is in Los Angeles. I guess the name reads sexier than “Just West of Koreatown BMW” on license plate frames.

But what is the deal with all of these other L.A. businesses dropping Beverly Hills in their names when they’re not even located in the tiny, yet uber-wealthy, sister city of Los Angeles?

Well, it’s all about name association of course. Products just sound like they’re going to be a little spiffier, of a higher quality, and services more polished when they come with Beverly Hills attached. It’s good ol’ fashioned advertising and it works. I know firsthand because I’ve used one or two of the above.

It’s understandable for ventures right on the edge of Beverly Hills – like Beverly Hills Tanning and the Four Seasons Hotel Beverly Hills. After all, you can walk twelve feet and be in the 90210, or at least the 90211. Across the street locales aside, though, this name game angle has taken on a life of its own.

Sticking to the ever-popular hotel category, the Courtyard Marriot in Century City (that’s Los Angeles) now advertises itself as the Courtyard Marriot Century City Beverly Hills.  Huh? A family booking a stay there and hoping to spot some celebrities may be a bit surprised to see they are in visual proximity to a nice Ralph’s Supermarket but not Ralph Macchio or any other celebrity named Ralph. More upscale but employing the same tactic, is the Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, which, as you may have guessed is not at all in Beverly Hills, but it is right across the street from the famous Beverly Center, which also isn’t in Beverly Hills.

Now, I’ll play along if the product is superb. The next time I need a taxi, you know I’m calling Beverly Hills Cab Company, which is located east of La Cienega by the 10 freeway in Los Angeles. Note: They are near Rodeo, however, that’s Road, not Drive. Wherever they are, the taxis are clean, the drivers friendly and they won’t give you a meter rip-off tour of Los Angeles when you just want a ride from mid-Wilshire to the airport.

And if you can afford the fare they’ll even take you all the way to Beverly Hills Furniture, which is located in Jersey City, New Jersey.


Nothing Lost in Translation

Little Tokyo I  kod441_1You

Southpark, it’s not you.  You’re wonderful, really…it’s just that I’ve met a new neighborhood and I’m going to be spending more time there, but we can still be friends…right?

While downtown continues its mega-march toward urban greatness, and likely will as long as the promised retailers arrive to support an impressive number of newbies flocking to the city center – and only then if our hard-to-find Mayor finally addresses the city’s enormous homeless dilemma – there is one area of Los Angeles in which your pulse will immediately slow to a restful state.

I’m talking, of course, about the quieter, cleaner, more relaxed and, frankly, what feels like, more pride-filled area of downtown known as Little Tokyo.   Its attractiveness and flair are a league above most of the rest of downtown, not that those other #dtla areas appear to be in any grand pursuit of equaling Little Tokyo’s balance of urban comfort and style in the first place.

The noise, poor city services and random acts of madness that still plague much the new downtown – even as developer money pours in like a Brinks convention – seems to stop at the border of Little Tokyo.

Why? Continue reading Nothing Lost in Translation

It’s 3:00 A.M., I’ve got $3, I’m hungry. Where do I go?

We’ve all been there in the City of Angels:  the all-night shoot downtown wrapped early, the sharks at Hollywood Park casino decimated your stack, or your emoticon girlfriend just dumped you at the virtual club…and dammit, you’re hungry!

Hungry for tacos!

The food-serving angels on La Brea will soothe you, even though every restaurant along the curvy section south of San Vicente is long closed for the night.  And it’s not brick and mortar grub you’re craving anyway…it’s the allure and strange comfort of the taco trucks.

They won’t disappoint and they’ll be happy to present you with three delicious south of the border delectables for the three bucks you have crumpled in your hand.  Don’t even think about a credit card.

You’ll know you’ve found them by the sudden bursts of neon color and the buzz of bodies huddled together placing their orders.  It’s 3:00 A.M. and yet truck after truck, corner after corner is alive with electricity.  They park, some permanently, at several intersections – four-wheel-full-time residents at their preferred spots, and they soothe you with slurp it down, delicious, greasy, perfect one-dollar morsels.

Movie stars, truck drivers, partiers, insomniacs and cops dine together on two legs  – all as one in the City of Angels.  Anyone can find a pricy food truck during the day.  It takes commitment and a desire for what the night may bring to draw you out only hours before sunrise.  That and four quarters.

El Chato Taco Truck – Olympic and La Brea

Tacos Leo – Venice and La Brea



Night of the Copters

untitled3“First off, I’d like thank the Academy for this great honor…and Sikorsky, Boeing and McDonnell Douglas too.”

The rest of the world refers to it as the night of the Academy Awards or the night of the Oscars.

In L.A. proper, the four-million or so people who won’t be walking on a red carpet refer to it as Sunday, and, depending on where they live, oftentimes, the night of the helicopters.

News copters, police copters, ABC show copters, rich people copters, and I’m guessing this year maybe even a few gate-crashing, camera-equipped drone copters trying to get a good shot of Jennifer Lopez’s cleavage, will fill the night sky across a large section of Los Angeles, creating havoc on the populace.

This annual sky-filled show actually starts slowly the day before when late-arriving big wigs land in private jets at LAX, Santa Monica or even Van Nuys and thwup-thwup their way across town to one luxe hotel or another to pre-party and pick up their tuxes, designer gowns and complimentary Botox or spray on hair treatments.  The smart ones, of course, have been in town for the past five months to partake in an orgy of award shows, culminating in Oscar’s big night.

On the big day, as regular folk are preparing their guacamole dip and Oscar ballots, a couple thousand lucky invitees will climb into freshly polished limousines and be whisked to the Dolby Theatre.  No doubt a few of the wealthiest would prefer to be air lifted directly to the red carpet on Hollywood Blvd. but there are pesky rules about helicopter rotors being in close proximity to cell-phone-picture-taking tourists. Continue reading Night of the Copters

Angel’s Flight

A part of your life or not, for a moment envision an angel as she floats above the basin of Los Angeles looking at the city below.   She looks to the right and thinks, Downtown, man they’re building a lot over there.  I wonder what will happen to the homeless?

She then looks straight ahead and can’t help but think that Frank Capra shot that “An angel just got his wings,” scene right at that studio over there.  That’s really cool.

Then she glances to the left and sees Playa Vista, a city within the city, growing in hypertime, adjacent to L.A.’s only remaining estuarine, the Ballona Wetlands, and wonders, Hmmm, I really hope they keep their promise to protect those birds.

And then she peers down at all of the cars on the freeways and thinks, That’s a lot of frayed nerves, and hopes, and dreams and lives down there.  Each one of those people is a unique story, each one is deserving of happiness, and I’m really glad I have these wings so that I don’t have to sit in that lousy traffic right now.

Downtown explodes

Locations in Los Angeles for It’s a Wonderful Life

Ballona Wetlands

Traffic woes

Real or Holly-Real?


In a city that can build Rome, create another planet and blow up Wilshire Blvd. all before lunch, is it any surprise that you’ll see things here that will have you scratching your head for clarity?

Real or Holly-real, you look at the images and you make the call.  And don’t sneak a peek  below the answer line until you’ve made your guess.  No one likes a spoiler.  So, here we go…

Guarding the streets of Los Angeles is never an easy task for city law enforcement.  New robot cops will soon patrol downtown to assist their human partners. 

Real or Holly-Real?

Continue reading Real or Holly-Real?

L.A. Announces Extra Smart Parking Meters

They’re extra smart all right, because they’re guaranteed to increase the mismanaged coffers down at City Hall.  Not content with the less-productive regular smart meters that have become a fixture across Los Angeles and allow parkers to swipe their credit cards or use coins, L.A. is pleased to introduce the newer, extra-smart meters that take credit cards and coins too, sort of, just remember, however, even though they accept coins, coins are not allowed.

Got it?  Clear?  I didn’t think so.

In other words, this wonderful curbside angle works something like this.  You put coins in the slot marked “coins,” because the slot takes coins and will readily accept as many as you want to put in there.  It’s not like it’s been sealed or anything radical like that to dissuade you from throwing your money away.  Heck, you can burn though an entire roll of quarters if you’d like, as these “coin accepting” meters that don’t count coins as actual payment will be glad to receive your donation anyway.

Just follow the directions and put your coins in right below the “insert coins here” notice.

And then off you run to do whatever it is that over-taxed citizens do in one of the most broken sidewalked, pot-hole ridden, over-priced, under-policed cities in the country: stop into work, or buy your coffee, or drop your kid at school, or pick up the dry cleaning, anything you want, and when you return to your vehicle you’ll find a nice, crisp white ticket waiting for you under the windshield wiper.

Only then might you possibly see through the smudged, tagged or smashed screen face of the meter a few dull words that read, “no coins accepted.”

Hey, how else is L.A. going to pay the thousands of parking enforcement rats, I mean, officers, scurrying around town in their little white rat-mobiles, right?

Extra smart parking meters, just one more scheme in the City of Angles.

The Mayor Speaks

These Guys Are Actually Helping



 Variety is the Spice of Life Until it Isn’t

untitled                                                                          Los Angeles changes fast and not always for the better, and if you don’t keep up it’ll recast you faster than a temperamental Disney ingénue.

Yesterday’s white hot star can quickly become tomorrow’s has been, inexplicably replaced by a climbing upstart. In such an environment is it any surprise that facelifts  – both human and in building naming rights – are a common site to announce another stellar debut in the City of Angels?

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Here, the former Variety Building logo was removed in the dead of night and swiftly recast by a new comer – the people behind the nightclub/hotels that are making the world a better place by creating cocktails made of dry ice.