Behold: five great things you should do in Southern California this week, from art to food to music to an adventure we'll call the Wild Card from the makers of the 5 Every Day app. Get this as a new podcast in iTunes. If you want five hand-picked things to do in Los Angeles every day, download the free 5 Every Day from the App Store.
Imagine seeing a pod of dolphins in an art museum.
Well, seeing video of them, at least. Four video projections, each featuring dizzying footage of dolphins swirling, swimming, and colliding in an open sea, each splayed across gallery walls at odd angles, overlapping in places.
It's so immersive and beautiful that it's practically a peak experience.
The dolphin films and 21 other video works make up "The Sympathetic Imagination," the first (ever) US retrospective by LA-based artist Diana Thater, on view at LACMA right now. Her work, as you can imagine, brings the flora and fauna of the outside world into gallery spaces, making even the whitest-walled museum feel like biosphere. It's magnificent, and it's also the museum's largest solo exhibition ever by a woman.
Kind of a big deal.
CITY: Baldwin Hills Stairs
The New Year is upon us, and with it the usual platitudes about self-improvement.
The dreaded... resolutions.
If you're like most Angelenos, you may be interested in a more rigorous fitness routine in the coming year.
Or at least for the first few weeks of the coming year.
If you want to get a jump on it all, or just work out so hard before New Year's Eve that you'll be set for the year, we recommend some good old-fashioned stair climbing.
Los Angeles is weirdly rich in outdoor staircases, but the ultimate stair workout are 282 jumbo steps leading from Culver City to the peak of Baldwin Hills. It's a workout any way you slice it.
While slackers like us just mosey our way up there to cop the most expansively educational view on the West Side, where the sea, oil rigs, and the mountains can all be taken it at once.
FOOD: Wax Paper
They say that the way to test a chef's mettle is to ask them to prepare an egg.
Wouldn't a sandwich be a more satisfying yardstick? Because while it's pretty easy to make a good sandwich, the perfect sandwich is actually a good deal more elusive.
Right off the LA River bike path in Frogtown, Wax Paper might have hit on the sandwich ideal. Housed in repurposed shipping container, it's a classy lunch counter with a menu only five sandwiches deep.
Of particular interest to this audience, we'd imagine, is how they name their sandwiches: each is named for a public radio personality.
The parallels between sandwich and radio host make a weird kind of sense. Like the Kai Ryssdal, a fancy tuna with black olive aioli and pickled celery — casual and serious at once, like the man himself.
There's the Larry Mantle, an Italian on sesame roll. And the Audie Cornish, named for the cornichon pickles on this elegant ham and cheese.
We rode off with a pair of veggie options: the Lakshmi Singh — shaved veggies, balsamic and pesto on a baguette — and the Ira Glass, an avocado melt with all the trimmings.
MUSIC: Permanent Records
It takes a certain kind of person to traffic in wax for a living. You're part curator, part librarian, part swap meet hustler, and pretty much all pathological hoarder.
It's a modest profession, but a noble one. If you're lucky, you earn the patronage of a broad class of people as meticulous and committed as yourself.
Record store lifers Lance Barresi and Liz Tooley inspire this kind of rabid devotion.
Two-thirds of trash rock band Endless Bummer, Lance & Liz came to Los Angeles a few years back to break ground on the West Coast branch of Permanent Records, a record shop they started in Chicago. They're in Highland Park now.
Permanent represents our platonic ideal when it comes to record store setups: two long rows of well-curated records on either wall, separated by a wide, church-like center aisle. Which means you can flip through the whole store before fatigue sets in.
The killer-to-filler ratio is in the 98th percentile, and the shop boasts a refreshingly Midwestern warmth.
WILDCARD: Los Alamos Rolodex
The Center for Land Use Interpretation is a hole-in-the-wall museum that's the spiritual cousin (and neighbor) to the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City.
If those names don't mean anything to you, no worries. Frankly we're kinda jealous that you get to experience it blind.
The Center — which goes by CLUI for short — strives to understand "the nature and extent of human interaction with the earth's surface."
Think of it as a pocket museum of land, art, and bureaucracy.
Currently on view is a show called Los Alamos Rolodex, which is exactly what it sounds like. It's a small collection of seven rolodexes once owned by Los Alamos National Laboratory employee Ed Grothus, who later became an anti-nuclear activist.
The rolodexes contain thousands of business cards kept by an office in the lab over the 1960s and 1970s. The dog-eared cards are a physical record of major military contractors, obscure software companies and hardware suppliers — basically everyone who did, or wanted to do, business with Los Alamos.
As a display, they're underwhelming. But what they represent is the nuclear arms race trapped in amber — the now-forgotten names and faces it took to build the most powerful national defense technology in the world.