Archive for June, 2016

The 8th Annual Global Reddit Meetup Day took place this past Saturday. The Los Angeles region met up at Grand Park in Downtown LA, with an afternoon filled with food and games. This free and all-ages event invited Reddit users to come mix and mingle to meet new friends and share ideas and fun. Operating like a potluck, many of the attendees brought snacks and treats, while some others brought things to do, such as games, piñatas, and sporting goods such as balls and frisbees. While stereotypes of Reddit users revolve around shut-ins who stay on their computers and/or smartphones, this event proved otherwise. In fact, no one ever truly witnessed anyone else buried away on their smartphone. Virtually all of the attendees had a good time meeting others and chatting the day away. Many others felt the same way – during my walk towards the location, I encountered a few others looking for the event, and they too had their skepticism about the types of people that we would encounter. Fortunately, everyone exhibited a friendly vibe, and I felt sad to leave so soon because I had 2-hour parking only and wanted to stay longer.

For more information about this meetup event, check out the Los Angeles section of Reddit for recent posts. Check out that page from time to time for updates from around LA County, as well as information about future events and meetups.

The stereotype of the crazy cat lady exists because these people still exist to this day. I got a chance to witness thousands of these people all corralled into one tight space at the 2nd Annual CatConLA. As the event’s name suggests, this event featured all things cats, but mainly for cat people. Taking place at The Reef just outside of Downtown LA, this two-day event covered multiple floors of the venue to accommodate for the thousands of attendees throughout the weekend, and filled them full of cat vendors. In addition to the vendors and booths, CatConLA also featured famous cats and famous people who work with cats. Adult admission cost $25 for a day or $40 for the weekend, while child admission cost $15 for a day or $25 for the weekend. Guests could not actually bring their cats.

A week prior, organizer Susan Michaels made a guest radio appearance to speak about the upcoming CatConLA event. She mentioned that last year’s event had almost 13,000 in attendance, a figure that they may have underestimated as they expected only eight to ten thousand to attend. While I originally expected CatConLA as an expo for cats and cat product vendors, CatConLA delivered exactly the opposite. When I think about a cat expo, I think cat toys, cat food, and cat adoptions. Instead, we got photo booths, accessories & apparel with cats on them, and art about cats. Basically, we got an event for cat people, but not actually cats. As a result, I witnessed tons of crazy cat people (mostly women) wearing cat accessories and tossing around endless cat puns, with puns such as “Are you kitten me right meow?” and other puns that make you cringe. When you see a line of people stretching outside of the building adorned in cat ears, whiskers, and other accessories or makeup, you can expect chaos inside.

I did not see any actual cats throughout the event, nor did I see many vendors with products for cats. I would wager that vendors about cats made up about 90% of the booths, while vendors selling products for cats measured under 10% of the booths. It took until the end of my visit when I started to leave that I finally found real cats… at the very back of the second floor. They sectioned off the cats in the back with a wall with a few windows to look into these “play rooms” that had cats in them. In order to enter these rooms to interact with the cats, you had to sign forms saying that you would adopt a cat that day. So for those not intending to adopt a cat, you would never interact with a cat at all at CatConLA – you would just have to deal with thousands of crazy cat people.

Can I wholeheartedly recommend CatConLA as an event worth checking out? I do not have numbers to show for, but considering that the first CatConLA last year had three to five thousand more people than they originally projected, cats definitely have enough popularity that I do not foresee this event fading away any time soon. However, due to the nature of this event of not having anything worthwhile to cat owners, I do not expect to ever return to a CatConLA. Perhaps if they start having more vendors geared towards owning a cat, I may return to see what the vendors would have. But if all they keep bringing involves things for humans and not cats, I will stay away as if I have a cat hair allergy.

The second of this year’s summer series of Belmont Shore’s Stroll & Savor of Long Beach wrapped up last week. This “Taste of Belmont Shore” occurs every year from May through September on the third Wednesday, and the Thursday immediately following. Free to attend for all ages, guests participate by paying $10 for a booklet containing 12 tickets that get redeemed at participating businesses along 2nd Street in Belmont Shore. The products offered by participating businesses range from appetizers to drinks to desserts to even full plates of food. Ticket costs vary based on the location, with some offering more than the value of the tickets, and many offering less than the value of the tickets. Although most of the participating businesses served the same things that they serve yearly, sometimes things will stand out from the crowd. I took two booklets last week, and went on a nice stroll through Belmont Shore.

Not much has changed in the way of offerings from the participating businesses. Between each year, most of the restaurants stick to their guns and offer what the people like, opting not to experiment or offer anything different. For that reason, I completely skipped every Stroll & Savor event in 2015. This year, I felt hesitant to go, knowing that not much will have changed. However, I bit the bullet and went last week to see if anything new had popped up. I got a chance to try the following:

  • Legends Sports Bar had their own tri-tip sandwich this time to rival that of Shannon’s usual tri-tip sandwich. I do not remember what Legends used to serve, but I definitely remember something else.
  • I got a samosa from Natraj Cuisine of India just to try it out.
  • Powell’s Sweet Shoppe served up their mini cones as usual. This time, they had a peanut butter gelato and a mango sorbet.
  • George’s Greek Cafe served their sampler plate as usual. However, they had raised the ticket price to five up from four from previous years.
  • Domenico’s Italian Restaurant served their variety of items, also as usual. One can never go wrong with their pizza, and I will proudly proclaim theirs as the best pepperoni pizza I have ever had.
  • Pandor Bakery & Cafe has something they call the OMG Bar. I have no idea what they put in this dessert that they classify as a cookie, but I would gladly keep going back to try this unique creation of theirs.
  • Lastly, I capped the day with some ice cream from Paradis Ice Cream.

All in all, a few things may have changed, but most restaurants have kept their offerings the same for Stroll & Savor. If you like what you see, check out what other events Belmont Shore has coming up by liking them on Facebook and following them on Twitter.

Bottle Share @ The Rookery
7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, June 29
The Rookery, Pomona

Share your favorite craft beer with other craft beer enthusiasts at this bottle share this Wednesday night in Downtown Pomona. Bring in a 750ml bottle of craft beer and order at least $10 of food in order to participate. Guests can find plenty of free parking in the area, and can avoid paying for parking entirely.

Long Beach Marathon Fun Run
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, June 30
On The Rocks, Long Beach

Run and socialize at this free fun run this Thursday evening that spans three to five miles of the full marathon’s course that goes through the CSULB campus.

Phantom Carriage Pint Nite
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, June 30
Meat Up BBQ, Placentia

Meat Up BBQ brings back their monthly pint nite this Thursday night. Buy a beer, and keep the glass while supplies last.

2016 Anime Expo
8:00 am – 6:00 pm, July 1-3
8:00 am – 2:00 pm, July 4
Los Angeles Convention Center, Downtown Los Angeles

The nation’s largest expo & convention for anime & manga returns to Downtown LA this 4th of July weekend. Complete with hundreds of artist & vendor booths, this convention allows attendees to get interactive via the masquerade ball, music videos, concerts, battle of the bands, fashion shows, dancing, video games, karaoke, cosplay gatherings & contests, and much more. Admission varies by the number of days attending – 4 days cost $90, while one day costs $55. Children 6-12 get in for a flat rate of $25, while children 5 and under get in free with a paid adult admission. Some of the special events, such as concerts and maid cafés, requires an additional ticket to get into. Parking at the convention center costs $20, so bring cash for that plus any of the vendors and food inside the convention center. Optionally, park in outdoor third party lots in the surrounding blocks for a lower rate, or take public transportation.

626 Night Market
4:00 pm – 1:00 am, July 1-3
Santa Anita Park, Arcadia

The largest Asian night market in America returns to Santa Anita Park this weekend. For just $3 to enter, this flea market of sorts will host tons of vendors selling Asian wares, merchandise, apparel, appliances, food, drinks, and more.

8th Annual Cars & Stripes Forever! Car Show
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, July 1
World Cruise Center, San Pedro

At this free and all-ages event this Friday night, check out cars, local bands, and fireworks.

First Fridays
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, July 1
Various locations
Long Beach:

This monthly artwalk occurs on the first Friday of every month. Each location offers different activities, but most will contain food & drink specials, art exhibits & displays, street performers, and more. Venice and Long Beach have the two largest gatherings of all First Fridays. Other locations include Westchester, Fullerton, and City of Industry. Most First Fridays locations cost nothing to attend, while the local businesses uphold their standard rules (e.g. bars 21+ only).

Punk Rock Karaoke @ Alex’s Bar
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, July 1
Underground DTSA, Santa Ana

Live out your punk rock dream with Punk Rock Karaoke this Friday night in Santa Ana, complete with a backing band consisting of professional musicians. Admission costs $10. No one under 21 may enter. Guests should park in the neighborhood south of 1st Street.

Ignite: Live in Southern California
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, July 1, The Observatory’s Constellation Room, Santa Ana
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, July 2, Saint Rocke, Hermosa Beach
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, July 3, Brick By Brick, San Diego

Punk rock band Ignite will headline a series of shows in Southern California this weekend. Ticket prices and age limits vary with each show, so click on a show’s link for details.

Red White & Boobies: Making America Naked Again
9:00 pm – 12:00 am, July 1
Harvelle’s, Downtown Long Beach

Enjoy a sexy patriotic burlesque show this Friday night in Downtown Long Beach. General admission costs $10. No one under 21 may attend.

Los Cafres: Live in Southern California
9:00 pm – 1:00 am, July 1, Glass House, Pomona
9:00 pm – 1:00 am, July 2, The Fonda Theatre, Hollywood
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, July 3, Music Box, Little Italy, San Diego

Enjoy a reggae/skacore show or two this weekend in Southern California. Tickets to these all-ages show vary in price, so click on a show’s link for details.

LA Cosplay Ball
10:00 pm – 2:00 am, July 1
333 Live, Downtown Los Angeles

Party and dance the night away in costume this Friday night in Downtown LA. General admission costs $20, while fast-pass admission costs $30 that allows you to bypass some lines. Show your Anime Expo badge for discounted admission. They will have costume contests for cash prizes, though most of these contests involve sexiness and how much skin you can get away with legally showing. No one under 18 may enter.

SoCal Corgi Beach Day
10:00 am – 3:00 pm, July 2
Rosie’s Dog Beach, Long Beach

Corgi lovers and Corgi owners unite this Saturday afternoon for a dog day at the beach, free to attend and for all ages. Share your love of this wonderful breed by showing off your adorable companion or by showing love for someone else’s adorable companion.

Ocean Beach Pier 50th Anniversary Celebration
10:00 am – 4:00 pm, July 2
Ocean Beach Pier, San Diego

Check out this free and all-ages event in Ocean Beach this Saturday that will have vendors, entertainment, arts & crafts, and more.

112th Huntington Beach 4th of July Celebration
10:00 am – 9:00 pm, July 2
7:00 am – 10:00 pm, July 3
10:00 am – 6:00 pm, July 4
Huntington Beach Pier, Huntington Beach

Celebrate Independence Day with a plethora of things to see and do in Huntington Beach this weekend. Activities include a pancake breakfast, 5k run, fitness expo, a parade, fireworks, live music, exhibitors, food vendors, family activities, and much more. See the website for a full list and schedule of what to expect.

4th Annual Ballast Point Independence Party
12:00 pm – 10:00 pm, July 2
Select Beer Store, Redondo Beach

Ballast Point will take over the taps at Select Beer Store in Redondo Beach this Friday night. No admission required – simply show up, and pay for beer as you go.

Wet Hot Skamerican Summer
6:00 pm – 11:30 pm, July 2
Out Of The Park Pizza, Anaheim

Enjoy a free and all-ages ska show this Saturday night in Anaheim.

Baldwin Punk
6:00 pm – 12:00 am, July 2
American Legion Post 241, Baldwin Park

Rock out to local punk bands this Saturday night in Baldwin Park. The cover for this all-ages show costs $3 or $5 for two.

Subtract On The Pier
2:00 pm – 10:00 pm, July 3-4
Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, Long Beach

This year, instead of the usual Party On The Pier, the Do Lab will host a concert on the pier during this 4th of July weekend. Admission costs $15 for one day or $25 for both. No one under 21 may attend.

Doll Hut’s Independance Day Punktanza Celebration
3:00 pm – 12:00 am, July 3
The World Famous Doll Hut, Anaheim

Enjoy a free local punk rock show at the Doll Hut in Anaheim this Sunday. No one under 21 may enter.

Independence Day
July 4
United States

Plenty of holiday events will take place this weekend, so check with your local favorite hangout spot to see if they have anything going on. Have a FUN and SAFE holiday weekend.

Surf City Run 5K
6:00 am – 11:00 am, July 4
Worthy Park, Huntington Beach

Participate in a community 5k run this 4th of July morning, followed by a festive parade. Registration for the 5k costs $40.

4th of July Picnic Dinner
5:00 pm – 9:00 pm, July 4
Maritime Museum, San Diego

Enjoy a seaside dinner along with fireworks this Independence Day in San Diego. Admission costs $35 for adults or $18 for children.

13th Anniversary 4th of July Luau
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, July 4
Pizza Port, San Clemente

Pizza Port will have a free and all-ages festive celebration on their rooftop this 4th of July evening.

For the longest time, I have always spoken about the great microbreweries of Orange County, CA, and how it will soon trump the hundreds of breweries that San Diego County boasts. Most people prefer quality over quantity, which lends to the legacies that some breweries in Orange County have. And at that point, we can start to see an emerging problem with the craft beer community of Orange County: Spoiled Favoritism. In other words, microbreweries have spoiled craft beer fans so much that the people clearly exhibit favoritism with certain breweries, and enthusiastically denounce all other breweries that do not meet their expectations. Unfortunately, some breweries have set the bar so high that craft beer fans perceive high expectations for just about any beer now.

As a loyal craft beer community, the people should want to support all local microbreweries in the ever-growing struggle against the big corporations who seek to stomp out all competitions by buying out microbreweries that may pose a threat to the corporation. Times have greatly changed, as the general populace now wants better quality in their drinks instead of mass-produced junk that the corporations spit out. As such, whenever a new brewery pops up, I make it a mission to visit them and gather as much photos and coverage as I can. I do not play favorites – I will give all breweries a shot at least once. After visiting many breweries throughout the southland, a great disparity exists in the starting capital of each brewery. Some breweries start out with a lot of money, while many others do not. Before I get to that, I will list every brewery in Orange County that either has a tasting room or has appeared at recent beer festivals as of the date of this post.

  1. Taps Fish House & Brewery
  2. Bootlegger’s Brewery
  3. Evans Brewing
  4. The Bruery
  5. Phantom Ales & Ciders
  6. Hoparazzi Brewing
  7. Bottle Logic Brewing
  8. Anaheim Brewery
  9. Legends Craft Brewery
  10. Valiant Brewing
  11. Old Orange Brewing
  12. Noble Ale Works
  13. JT Schmid’s
  14. Chapman Crafted Beer (coming soon, formerly Haven Brewing)
  15. Riip Beer Company
  16. Beachwood Brewing
  17. Four Sons Brewing
  18. Newport Beach Brewing Company
  19. Barley Forge
  20. Network Brewery
  21. Unsung Brewing (coming soon)
  22. Good Beer Company
  23. Santa Ana River Brewing Company (coming soon)
  24. Tustin Brewing
  25. Cismontane
  26. Stadium Brewing
  27. Artifex Brewing
  28. Left Coast Brewing
  29. Stereo Brewing (coming soon)

The following have establishments in Orange County, but fall into this separate list for the reasons listed:

  1. Huntington Beach Beer Company (brewpub, does not distribute nor attend beer festivals)
  2. Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing Company (brewed in San Diego County)
  3. Backstreet Brewery (brewed in Irvine, but has locations outside of Orange County and rarely appears at beer festivals)
  4. Pizza Port (brewed in San Diego County)
  5. Bayhawk Ales (contract brewer only, no tasting room)
  6. Laguna Beach Beer Company (brewed in Northern California then shipped to Laguna Beach)
  7. Archaic Craft Brewery (brewpub, does not distribute nor attend beer festivals)
  8. Dean Brothers Brewing (no tasting room, allegedly contract-only)
  9. Karl Strauss (brewed in San Diego County)
  10. BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse (corporate chain, founded in Brea but now brewed out of state)
  11. Golden Road Brewing (brewed in Los Angeles)

So there you have it: approximately 40-ish breweries exist in Orange County, give or take a few. Bold means the breweries consistently have large crowds. What do these breweries have in common? In addition to overwhelming popularity, they all have boatloads of capital. When you have more starting money, not only can you produce, sell, and distribute more product, but you can pay for more workers and more marketing. For example, let us identify two breweries located somewhat close to each other that have opened within the last three years: Bottle Logic and Valiant. On one hand, you have Valiant that opened with simply the founder’s bank account, so they had a slow rolling start until they got well-known. On the other hand, you have Bottle Logic that started with investors and lots of money to make a beautiful fully-decorated tasting room, plus an actual STREET TEAM that appeared at beer festivals for years prior to their opening, allowing them to build hype. These breweries that have a lot of money can afford to produce more beer, do more marketing, and distribute to many locations. Understandably, these breweries tend to have packed tasting rooms almost all the time.

What has happened as a result? These lavish breweries with all their money have spoiled the local craft beer community. They employ a bunch of bells and whistles to attract people, and since they have money, they can afford to enter into beer competitions to win awards. Once a brewery has a huge enough following, they can afford to knock a dollar or two off their drinks as well, thus spoiling the people with $5 pints of “award-winning” beer IPA’s, because Californians love their IPA’s so much. Any brewery that specializes in other brews besides IPA’s basically had to start making an IPA in order to stay open, as the beer people simply want an IPA and do not care about anything else. You could be Hoparazzi who specializes in fruit ales or Brouwerij West who specializes in Belgian beers. The people do not care what air you breathe – if you do not have an IPA, they will not give you their business.

The great problem lies with favoritism. Louis C.K. said it best, that people only want their favorite things and will absolutely not consider any other option, not even a second favorite thing. Thus people will only visit their favorite brewery, and will denounce all other choices. Want people to visit that other brewery around the corner? “But their beers cost $6, while I can drink a pint of award-winning IPA at my favorite brewery for just $5.” First, fuck off with your elitist beer snob attitude. Second, do you even care about local craft beer? Many of the original Orange county breweries started with a vision to make craft beer a great thing in Orange County, and to not exclude anyone. Heck they even formed a brewers guild as a support group to help each other out to combat the big corporations from stomping all over us. As if the breweries did not already support each other enough (below: Evan from Cismontane gives yeast to Chris from Smog City), the brewers guild represents a fraternity of sorts, so the breweries pay to have that official title of having that group support. But now the rich breweries have spoiled the people so much that they no longer care about the little guys. Smaller breweries struggle with shelf and tap space because the popular breweries paid their way there. And now, California has a bill on the table that would allow manufacturers/sellers/distributors to pay retailers to promote their products, meaning that richer breweries can essentially buy all the shelf space, preventing the smaller breweries from distributing their product. Even worse, the big corporations that have millions of dollars floating around can buy all of the shelf spaces. I guess it goes to show you that money truly rules everything.

If the local community remains spoiled like this and keep playing favorites, we may not see diversity in future breweries because only the rich people can open breweries. Anyone with an entrepreneur’s spirit but without funds will not get far trying to open a brewery if the people will not give them a chance. Try as you might – if you do not have the money or the people, you can forget about opening up a brewery that may one day find success in the future.

I never really understood the term gentrification until sometime last year. I thought it had something to do with the uprising of hipsters and cultural awareness. Eventually I discovered that it meant the reforming of an urban area, whether an entire city or just a localized neighborhood, to include more local businesses to attract people to make it better in the eyes of potential consumers. Apparently I have witnessed that occurring in Downtown Anaheim and Downtown Santa Ana already, despite the shady neighborhoods around those areas. Recently, I have encountered signs of gentrification in Bellflower as well. As one of the LA/OC gateway cities, the stretch of cities going north from Lakewood tend to have a reputation of low-income housing, and most of the people here represent the generations of decades past, sticking to things they already know and like, preferring not to try new things. Bellflower aims to change their reputation into that of a city for the younger generation to come visit, and they have done that by adding hip restaurants, which includes the popular breakfast joint The Nest.

Everyone loves breakfast, and if they had a choice, they would have breakfast foods any time of the day, especially at a place like The Nest. Over at The Nest, they like to keep things simple and sweet, evident by their menu that does not contain many items, but fewer items of higher quality. The folks at The Nest prefer quality over quantity, and their small menu reflects that. For example, one of their few items includes the popular Bacon Waffle. This Belgian-style waffle gained its popularity because it contains bacon pieces inside the batter. Not only that, but The Nest tops this waffle with housemade bacon whisky syrup. Sure it may cost $9.50 for one waffle, but the thickness of the waffle and the amount of bacon you get with this plate merits the price. It also comes with eggs cooked your way, so you do not get only the waffle.

The Nest may not have a big menu, but they sure do have a big following, as their wait times for a table on weekends can sometimes go over an hour. Check out what The Nest has going on by liking them on Facebook and following them on Twitter.

The popular Orange County Night Market returned this past weekend at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa for its third year here. This weekend-long all-ages festival brought the nightlife of the east to the west, and showed the locals what goes on at night in populated Asian cities. Taking place in the northwestern section of the fairgrounds, this event dedicated a huge chunk of the space to the various food, drinks, and desserts that everyone could explore and taste, while leaving a smaller space for all other vendors. At the far back of the event, visitors could find a live stage with entertainment taking place all weekend. Admission only cost $5 per person, while guests had to pay for everything else once inside.

Upon entering the event area, visitors would find various merchandise vendors aligned in the center, while they would find all food and drinks on the sides. Some of the merchandise remained near the entrance, so visitors did not spend as much time in this front section as they did the open area with all the food. Regardless, visitors could find some neat items while they browsed around.

Visitors discovered the main attraction of the OC Night Market in the food. Visitors could find cuisine from multiple different regions of Asia, from Chinese to Thai to Vietnamese to Japanese to Korean and more. The huge front section housed all of the booths of vendors mostly hailing from all over Southern California, with a few from out of town. The longest lines occurred at booths with the demanded items, such as vendors with Takoyaki, spiral potato on a stick, and squid roe.

Since the 626 Night Market team puts this event on, those who attended those events up in Arcadia would feel right at home at this event. Expect more OC Night Markets to come back around next month, and check them out on Facebook and Twitter for future updates and news. Also catch the 626 Night Market going on every month at the Santa Anita Park all summer long.