Saturday, September 10, 2016


I wrote a listicle for LA Weekly to help people find 7 places to combine yoga and booze this month in Los Angeles. Yes, I ask the hard hitting questions for you. It was part of my week of fun articles, the other being my piece on Netflix-for-rad-toys startup Joymode. (Look for it on Thrillist on Thursday Sept. 22.)

I became interested in the trend when I received an invitation for one of the events, and wondered how common it is to stack a happy hour on top of yoga class. I learned it's common, and spreading. Boston has a Bendy Brunch (vinyasa + mimosas), and Washington D.C. has Soul & Spirits, both produced by yoga event organizer Grip the Mat, which does Vinyasa to Vino here in LA.

Later this month, a St. Louis ale house will combine yoga with a tasting, like the Dude's Brewing Company event featured in my Weekly article. That event was planned by Yoga Buzz, a St. Louis nonprofit that plans various yoga events to make it more accessible to the community. Early next month, another Yoga Buzz event will add baseball to the yoga-drinking mix. Browse Eventbrite and you'll find events throughout the country.

Here in LA, all the events from my list - with the exception of Sunset Yoga & Cocktails - will repeat. I will catch the next Sound Off Yoga. Glow in the dark earphones in a dim garden, deep house in my ears alone (sort of), and the lovely garden at The Garland - epic idea.

I didn't get to include one photo of the Grip the Mat founders, Christy Skarulis and Ashley Braun, in my piece. We also didn't publish some of the photos of Green Tree Yoga & Meditation, a wonderful South Park nonprofit seeking to renew the community through access and practice. The outtakes:

Grip the Mat founders, Christy Skarulis and Ashley Braun, teach vinyasa at The Lazarus Experience on Wednesdays, followed by wine and mingling. I love this photo of the friends and founders, but we picked the photo we ran because it better encapsulated the actual event, with yogis with wine in hand. Photo: Courtesy Christy Skarulis

Green Tree Yoga & Meditation (above and below) brings donation-based yoga and meditation, and a new kind of community, to South Los Angeles. Below, the instructor is Green Tree founder Raja Michelle. Photos: Courtesy Green Tree Yoga & Meditation 

Sunday rooftop yoga at the Standard DTLA buys you a day at the pool, a package with a perfect name - Bender. As in, bend your body around before you go on a [booze] bender. Photo: Bender Twitter

Thursday, September 8, 2016


My overview of the downtown Los Angeles Arts District for a special issue of The Real Deal is now live. The Real Deal is really a trade magazine for an investor-developer-agent-analyst readership, so I'm glad I had an editor who let me write honestly about a community uneasy with the change driven by that readership.

I didn't have the editorial space to go as deep as I could have on different perspectives on change in the area, with Boyle Heights just across the river as an example of a vociferous, bordering on violent,  debate over the redevelopment of a longstanding Los Angeles community.

It is noteworthy that two Arts District success stories - Poketo and Angel City Brewery - don't just sell product, but organize community.

How quickly Boyle Heights would change without opposition is debatable; the two communities differ significantly. Part of the developer interest in the Arts District is the availability of a particular kind of space. As I wrote in the article:

This post-industrial hub still has the factory buildings that characterized the neighborhood in the 1920s, when an industrial boom kept it busy. After manufacturing shifts and global trade required more vertical clearance to stack high-volume shipments, the Arts District’s four- and five-story square blocks of symmetrical floors became obsolete, and the sector was pushed out to areas like the aptly named Commerce, about six miles southeast. 
The upper floors of the buildings, left empty for years, were eventually populated, in part, by a migration of New York artists needing cheap and voluminous space. The community of bohemian crafters living in their work studios transformed the mini-factory town into the Arts District. “You couldn’t even lease these places at 10 cents (per square foot). People were living there when they shouldn’t,” Hillman said.
In 1981, the Artists in Residence Ordinance allowed artists to legally live in the industrially zoned units. Then, in 1999, another ordinance allowed a separate set of building standards that relaxed safety-retrofitting guidelines for buildings constructed before 1974, an attempt to preserve space that would otherwise be destroyed because of the costs of retrofitting. The city’s grudging tolerance of the artists’ illegal dwellings, combined with easier redesign for developers, gave rise to the modern urban real estate phenomenon of live-work lofts. 
Then developers caught on to an investor’s dream: inexpensive, easily repurposed open space in buildings with good bones. 
Two landmark projects from Linear City Development — the Toy Factory Lofts in 2005 and the Biscuit Company Lofts in 2007 — set the stage for converting hollow, neglected factories into mixed-used models of functional high density.
I chose the strips to include in the map with blurbs and photos. I've since received feedback it wasn't an entirely accurate portrayal of what is in the district. It was just a tough call, as I was limited to 18 locations. My editor and I decided 7th St. would roughly be the southern boundary, so I omitted SoHo House but included Bestia.

There is one major error on the map of Santa Fe Ave. that is, I'm sorry to say, all mine: One Santa Fe and the Ford Factory swapped places. The addresses printed are accurate, but each is where the other should be on the map. I had an opportunity to proof the maps after The Real Deal's graphics team did their work. I focused on how the text descriptions had been edited rather than looking at the spatial representation of the streets I chose. Apologies to the Arts District community.

There was much more to cover than I got to. I didn't just want to mention more places on the map; I wanted to find out if the arts will really stay in the Arts District. I would have liked to get the full story on how and why exactly the wulf., an experimental performance space, will move elsewhere. While I was doing my reporting, the nonprofit's managers and performers were reticent to detail what exactly happened to the lease. WriteGirl is in the Arts District, too. Will they be priced out? Who else?

Finally, I would also have loved to do a sidebar on Natalie Chapple's beautiful work on Angel City Brewery, and other reworked watering holes around the city.

This post was published, then unpublished, then updated on Sun. Jan. 8, 2017.