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Summer series: A day in Los Angeles

United States

We love to travel, but staying at home can be a lot of fun too. To inspire you to explore your own backyard, we’ve asked a few friends to guide us through a perfect day in their home town. First in this series is Gary Walker, who’s previously called London, Berlin and Brooklyn home and now lives in Los Angeles.

In moving to LA my dream of having a house with a porch, on which I can sit and read pretty much most of the year round, was achieved. So my ideal day off would start there with tea, bagels and a SoCal crime novel – try either of Joe Ide‘s recent IQ books as the perfect partner.

LA is a driving town, and its easy to become inactive, so, if the heat isn’t too much, after breakfast I would try walk to my favourite local spots, up and down the hilly streets of our part of the Silver Lake neighbourhood to Virgil Avenue on the edge of East Hollywood to get my haircut by one of the expert local barbers at Vinny’s Barbershop. Vinny’s is a Latino-owned business and a celebration of everything that’s positive about barbershop culture. Regulars come in for gravity-defying pompadours, alongside local kids who just need a good short back and sides.

From there I would wander up Virgil to the California Grill for an early lunch, a misnomer if ever there was one as their specialities are meat and veg Salvadoran papusas. With some expensive eateries opening nearby, this is a haven for working locals wanting authentic food at cheap prices.

After lunch, I would walk up to Sunset and visit Secret Headquarters, the expertly curated comic store. In recent years, there’s been an explosion of crime related comics in particular, most of which I’ve missed, so they have an amazing selection of graphic novels to discover in addition to new single issue titles to pick up. I’m not a big browser, I like to ‘pop-in’ to record and book stores and find something new instantly, and here I almost always do.

It would then be fun to jump in the car and drive up to the expansive Griffith Park, for either a further muscle-toning hike, or a visit to the Autry Museum of the American West on the edge of the park. Permanent exhibits are arranged around Religion and Ritual, Land and Landscape, Migration and Movement, but the temporary shows are what bring you back. Last year we saw an excellent photographic survey of the late 60s “Chicano’ protest movement, documenting the activism of the time.

For dinner, I’d go always back to Little Pine, the vegan restaurant on Rowena in Silver Lake that is owned by the musician Moby. After a shaky initial opening, the food there is now full of flavour, served family style, and you really do want to try everything.

Finally, I’d hopefully have enough energy to visit Footsie’s bar on Figeroa in Cypress Park. Taken over once the original owner died, the local vibe of the bar remains intact, just being far enough off the beaten track that sardonic millennials don’t come and ruin the vibe. There’s a pool table, a row of comfy booths, and dancing in the middle of the room to djs playing 50s and 60s RnB and garage rock. And – oh look! There’s the barbers from Vinny’s hanging out there having a beer, it’s their favourite bar too.

Gary is artist manager at Monotone Inc in LA for The Kills, Priests and The Pearl Hart’s. We strongly urge crime fiction fans to follow him on Instagram for excellent reading recommendations and great cover art.

Published 3 August 2018

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