The Madeleine Brand Show is a daily, two-hour program that looks at news and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by Madeleine Brand

'SoCal Close-ups' app explores LA through your iPad

Screenshot of the
Screenshot of the "SoCal Close-ups" travel app.
Tribune Company

Listen to story

Download this story 4.0MB

LA Times travel writer Chris Reynolds has traveled to countries like France, Panama and Latvia. For his newest project, Reynolds spent over a year traveling ... in Los Angeles.

The result is an iPad app called SoCal Close-ups that maps and documents interesting but little-known places to visit in town.

Here are some of his off-beat suggestions that even native Angelenos might not know about:

Studio tour that offers the best value:
"I'm suggesting Warner Bros, which does not have a theme park, but does do studio tours, which cost substantially less than Universal Studios. You go in there and you see the backlot and you see sound stages. They take you into the Foley room and you see the square where in "Music Man" they sang "76 Trombones." You see the courthouse where that lamentable last "Seinfeld" episode was filmed. Then at the end of it they have a Warner Bros museum with props and costumes and things from 80 years of TV and movies. Then upstairs is the Harry Potter zone."

Want to visit dead celebrities?
"This is one of the smaller cemeteries in all of L.A. and its, in many ways, the opposite of Forest Lawn, which so many people have heard of. but its called Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and its got more celebrities per square foot than I think any cemetery anywhere … I know that Marilyn Monroe is there and people are in the habit of leaving kisses on her marker. So they're forever buffing the marker and more kisses turn up."

What else is special about the cemetery:
"At some point someone decided, I don't know how this got started, but the headstones are not at all somber in this place. There are many of them that are pretty amusing. Merv Griffin's says 'I will not be back after this message.' Rodney Dangerfield is there and, maybe you can guess this one, 'there goes the neighborhood, forever.'"

Best place in Westwood to satisfy a sweet tooth:
"A few blocks away [from the cemetery] is Persian ice cream. Which is one of those things that people who have been in L.A. for a little while know about, and people from outside of L.A. probably have no clue about. It's called Saffron and Rose, very indistinct from the front, but you go in there and get the saffron pistachio which I think is $3.50."

Best off-beat museums:
"From Westwood you can drop south a little bit to Culver City and you won't be taking the Sony tour. You might want to renew your acquaintance with the Museum of Jurassic Technology. I like to think of that neighborhood as the arcane non-profit institution district because right there along Venice Blvd., basically next door to the Museum of Jurassic Technology, is the Center for Land Use Interpretation, which is basically one guy, Matthew Coolidge, although he has many admirers and helpers, but the idea of the place is to explore and celebrate the crazy things that happen when humankind interacts with the landscape, so he does these great deadpan exhibits like, 'snide LA's biggest sewer pipe.' They did a visual exploration and got images from inside LA's main sewer pipe and in typical deadpan style they call it 'A rare and momentary look inside the city's intestines.' I think the current exhibit is 'Uranium disposal cells of america.'"

Yes. Porn Star Karaoke is a thing.
"Go to Sardo's, a bar and restaurant in Burbank. It's distinction is that its the home of Porn Start Karaoke on Tuesday nights. As we know the San Fernando Valley is the capital of porn production industry I'm the US, perhaps the world. When these people get to the end of their working day they need to relax like anyone else, so it had become a habit among those within the industry and those who admire the industry that this happens Tuesday night."

Anything to do south of L.A.?
"If its not Tuesday night and you're denied Porn Star Karaoke option, and its Sunday night for instance, you can go down to the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach. Jay Leno, who evidently doesn't have enough other things to do, tends to work on new material there on Sunday nights. So you get there early, its a pretty small house, and you can end up sitting more or less at jay's feet. You do appreciate the guy when you see him in person."