Sleep It Off: An Eco-Chic Boutique B&B – Hollywood, CA

An eco-chic boutique B&B right in the middle of Hollywood? Wait a minute. Why haven’t I ever written about this before? I know I’ve seen it.

Good thing I was chatting up Erika McQueen, my Pilates instructor at Whole Body Gallery; otherwise, I never would have known just how cool it actually is. She and her hubby, Dougald, own the place.

Perfect for the semi-working actor, DP, writer, or family member, Hollywood Pensione is a 1915 Craftsman specializing in weekly stays. Featuring eco-pure rooms with specially-made organic mattresses, fine organic bed linens by Anna Sova, complimentary organic wine and dark chocolate truffles, and state of the art in-room technology like flat screen TV’s, DVD’s, and high speed WiFi, it was ‘designed for the discerning traveler and professional seeking the privacy of a hotel, with the comforts and conveniences of home for short and long term visits to Los Angeles.’

Walking distance from the Hollywood sign, Griffith Park, the Metro Station, cafes, markets, shops and Hollywood landmarks including the Mann Chinese Threatre, Walk of Fame, Kodak Theatre, Hollywood Bowl, and Hollywood & Highland, it’s close to the studios and offers a different, more unique sort of experience than the other (more pricey) digs near Sunset or Beverly Hills.

Just what you might be looking for when it comes to planting those creative seedlings.

Oh, and the owner? She says she’s adding a yoga studio so you can thankfully leave Hollywood with a tighter ass too.

Rates are from $149/daily – $2,000/month

1845 N. Wilton
Hollywood Ca. 90028
Tel: (323) 369-2411

A Flair Necessity: Brixton Hats

How did a couple of SoCal boys from the surfhood develop the coolest caps we’ve seen in years?

And how did they come up with the name Brixton?

Friends from their days at Transworld Media, a publishing company that owns some of your favorite adventure sports titles (Transworld Skateboarding, Snowboarding, and Surf), they were influenced by the culture around them and beyond. The name? A Clash song about Brixton (pst. Brixton is a part of London). While hunting for cool hats and accessories for the modern man and woman on the move, they hatched an idea and executed it, developing a line of goods perfect for the lover of surf, music, skateboarding, and art…

So here’s your hat.

Launched in 2004, David Stoddard, Jason Young & Michael Chapin, inspired by vintage designs and the cultures and influences of California, attribute their traditional, yet modern designs to the friends and associates they met through the action sports community.

Our kinda boys.
For wear.
For travel.

That missing piece of the outfit that brings you to the next level.
The cool hat.

Jaunt Magazine says, “Gracias amorcitos.”
The boys and I say check out:

The Clasp Women’s Hat which seems to go with everything, The Castor Brown, unisex hat great for vacation, The Parlor Tan, a great women’s beach hat…

And the Stout Fedora. Completely crushable, you can pack in bags and it will form back to shape no matter how badly you’ve packed it. Phew. Brad Pitt… it’s calling youuuuuu.

Retails from $10.00-45.00


The Beautiful Grit of Burma: Part Three

The last in our Burma travel series, Jeff Duncan, Jaunt Contributor and GM of Stage Three Music, takes us to Bagan, the final stop on his journey throughout the beautiful grit that is Burma.

Part 3: Bagan, Original Majesty
“You’re scared aren’t you?” Said my friend.

We were up far enough up on the pagoda that a fall down the deceptively steep, sharp brick steps would be ugly. I wondered how many unlucky schlubs had taken that tumble over the last thousand years. It would be the type of fall that can’t be stopped. The victim would only gain speed and torque as they log-rolled to the bottom, each thud against the bricks doing real damage.

Was there even a hospital within 100 miles?
“Stop projecting. And, yes.” I replied.

Ungracefully (and not very heroically), we crawled, hunched over like crabs to summit the ancient edifice. When we arrived at the top, I looked out over the lush green landscape, punctuated by hundreds of clay-red stupas. It was still and a slight mist of rain cooled my face as the sun set slowly.

It was likely my emotions, but I sensed an energy, a deep & phasing, barely sub-aural cycling of power. I kept my mouth shut about it. It was the perfection I’d not even been aware I was searching for; simultaneous stillness, solitude, antiquity and natural splendor. It was fleeting.

Behind us, an agile old local had followed us up. He began his mantra of “You buy! You buy!” holding up his indigenous paintings. I gently indicated that I would have a look if he met us in 10 minutes down by our minivan (with the broken AC – every car we took in Burma had broken AC, at least that’s what we were told). He persisted, but I pointed at the view and gave him the 1 minute signal. The local vendors had extra vigor, presumably because the tourists were staying away due to the recent protests and unrest. Still, I felt a bit bastardly moving him along. The feeling later eased when I bought two of his paintings.

The two-punch combo of a depressed economy and repressive government is a wicked one, so far as I can tell, but the people live on and seem connected to their fascinating history.

We needed some local cash. Our US $20’s were slightly more fire power than necessary so we took a ride to our driver’s Aunt’s house; she had a black market side-gig changing currency. Very Burma. On the way, we passed the ridiculous golf course the military had built in the middle of the stunning plain…“Let’s shoot 18 in the ruins Bro….Sweet!” I think the regime is far more suited to run a dog circus than a country.

The Aunt’s dwelling was a dark-wood and straw mat affair slightly off the main drag. Lit only by candles (the whole town had lost power for no particular reason, which is common), it felt slightly spooky-warm and seemed an extension of the clay earth it was built upon. I caught myself scanning the dark corners of the room for some thieving marauder ready to jump us for our money belts, but quickly shrugged off my American paranoia when his thin old Aunt appeared with her happy eyes and missing-tooth smile.

The Burmese will only accept crisp fresh dollars; any tear, crumple, fold or stain and it’s rendered useless to them. I’ve heard tales of tourists damn near starving to death with a wallet full of worthless, fouled money who are then forced to go to their embassy for a hand out. Fortunately, mine wasn’t so dirty and the old lady, with surprising skill and speed, counted out a fat stack of the equivalent kyat, less her commission, of course. Kyat makes a man with forty bucks feel rich; the size of the currency and exchange rate the way it is leaves one with an obscene wad of the stuff that’s better stowed in a chamber pot than a billfold.

After dinner I was beat, and on the way back to the cabanas our driver noticed me rubbing my sore neck. 

“Can I recommend a traditional Burmese massage?” He offered in his unexpectedly polished English.
Now there is an idea, and a fine one at that. A perfect end to a perfect day.
“Where do we go?” I anxiously queried.
“Oh, they come to your hotel,” he said. I envisioned a slow, two-hour deep oil rub from some skilled, local beauty. She’d relax every muscle and smooth each sinew and I’d drift away deep and heavy to awake anew tomorrow.
“To send the man over it will cost $10 US dollars for each of you,” he added.

My prior vision was abruptly smashed, replaced by one that involved my lower back being tickled by some dangling beard…piss.

“Can’t you send women over?” I asked, before really thinking it through.
“Sir, I will tell you that this is a historic site and we don’t….” he rattled.

“Hey, wait… I’m sorry… I didn’t mean… I just want a massage, I think you misunderstand. I don’t like to get rubbed by men…” I foolishly stammered.
He was peeved.

After copious explanations and back trackings, the guy seemed mildly assured we weren’t another gaggle of American sex tourists who took a wrong turn at Bangkok.

As I waited for sleep with a stiff neck, I left the window open and listened to the thunderstorms rolling across the plain of Bagan and wished we’d had one more day there.

By Jeff Duncan

LA Local Gem: Gonpachi on La Cienega

One word. “Naga.”

Short for Katsuo Nagasawa, originally from the Fukushima region of Japan. “Naga” (as he’s better known) is applauded in restaurant circles for his 20+ years in Pacific Rim cuisine. Recently appointed new Executive Chef of the year-old Gonpachi, Beverly Hills on La Cienega’s Restaurant Row, he joins Masa Yamamoto, the Executive Sushi Chef (and six-year veteran of Gonpachi Tokyo), and Yasu Kusano, Executive Chef of Soba and Sumi-Yaki, where they can be found grilling robata, dicing sashimi, and pounding buckwheat noodles by hand nightly, a highlight Los Angeles Times food critic S. Irene Virbilia deemed “worth a trip just to see, and taste.”

Under different management when it first opened, the word has been slow to get out, but JAUNT says, ‘Great place, solid cuisine.’ Weekends draw more of a crowd, while during the week it’s a bit quiet, so spread the word… we don’t want to see it go away. Located across the street from Matsuhisa and down the way from Benihana has kept it under wraps, but the prices are a little less painful and the food on par with the likes of Koi and Kantana.

The atmosphere?
Well, it happens to be a world apart.

Imagine a two-story 11,000-square-foot Japanese spectacle steeped in Japanese carpentry, cherry blossoms, lighting fixtures imported from Japan, Zen gardens, and intricately-designed roof tiles. The dining area consists of a large sushi bar, open seating in the center, booths lining the perimeter, and private rooms where you can sit with a group on the floor, straight up Japanese style. We here at JAUNT love to sit on the floor and it’s tough to find that in this part of town.

Pst. the only other Gonpachi’s are in Japan.

Chef Naga’s inventive new menu consists of an array of traditional and fusion Japanese items like the always tasty Yellowtail Carpaccio with enoki mushroom in a warm ginger jalapeno dressing and traditional hot robata plates.

They also present several interesting sobas, both hot and cold, and add unique touches to dishes like their baked dynamite by resting it on eggplant and topping with corn and the occasional spicy crunch of red peppercorns, a welcome revision from the sometimes deliciously mundane. Try the Yuba Roll with accents of madras curry and wasabi aioli wrapped in soy paper or the Flaming Grady, a mix of spicy lobster, albacore and jalapeno. With the introduction of new flavors to the already popular, standard sushi dishes around Los Angeles, Naga’s competing with the best.

“A restaurant of Gonpachi’s magnitude needs standout cuisine to rival its visual excellence,” reveals Naga amid his lavish new surroundings. “My goal is to help make an already-impressive experience…unforgettable.”

Gonpachi is open for dinner, sushi and cocktails seven nights a week, so let’s keep it in business. We could use somewhere good, cozy, close, and NEW to go.

134 N. La Cienega Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA
(310) 659-8887