By Karla S. Blume
Los Angeles Times, September 11, 2003
The outspoken queen of L.A.’s indie music scene speaks her mind about the inspirational value of the city as a songwriting tool. She also walks us through her favorite Westside specialty shops, which offer a friendly smile and an alternative to the massive, corporate-owned shopping chains.
Los Angeles is a great place to be inspired to write songs. I like to drive through residential neighborhoods and make up stories about the people that I see.
There have also been times that I booked hotel rooms to stay in to get that familiar feeling back of traveling on tour. When you’re on the road, you live by a different set of rules and it makes you realize your own role in life and discover what people mean to each other. I have written a few songs at the Four Seasons Hotel and the Château Marmont on Sunset Strip.
For an eating experience that is truly L.A., I like the Ivy at the Shore in Santa Monica. This is the sister restaurant to the famous Ivy restaurant in Beverly Hills. You can get high-quality food like the cold poached salmon and the white fish with capers and tomatoes while you watch the patrons, all industry folk, gather with their families.
It’s interesting to watch the big players of Hollywood behaving in their “private mode”. I feel very comfortable in multi-generational settings, and this is a great place for people of all ages to gather and reminisce.
The worst part about going there is that once I’ve ordered, I end up wishing I’d gotten whatever dish the person with me has ordered. You could call it food envy.
Shop ’til you drop
I like the shoes at Fred Segal in Santa Monica, but most of the time I end up at the little independently owned specialty shops in Manhattan Beach. My favorite of those is Lulu’s. They have a variety of lingerie and footwear.
For clothing, I frequent Wright’s. The store has a spinoff for kids called Baby Wright’s; they have a great selection of items. For decorating knick-knacks, you can’t beat Magpie. When I buy CDs, I like to go to Amoeba in Hollywood and yes, I’ll admit it, once in a while I end up at Target and Borders for the same reason.
I’m deeply affected by natural experiences, so naturally I am drawn to the sea. I walk up and down the beach several times a week at sunset to check in on the birds and ocean. I like to hike in the beautiful trails that wind up the Malibu area. It’s like being in China: it’s so remote you wouldn’t even know you were in a major city. Taking a drive up in the Angeles Crest forest is also pleasant. If I was going to go to a concert to watch one of my favorite performers like Daniel Lanois, Michael Penn or Aimee Mann, I’d choose to see them at an outdoor venue like the John Aston Ford Ampitheatre or the Greek because there is a different energy at an outdoor nighttime event. The music floats from the instruments on the stage up into the night, echoing through the hills. It’s almost as if you end up playing to nature and all its creatures.
Featured Image: Liz Phair (Photo: Wally Skalij, Los Angeles)