If you've ever stood on the second floor of the Los Angeles Central Public Library and marveled at the explosion of color within the rotunda or the 12 adjacent murals depicting California history, then you have the Los Angeles Conservancy to thank. When the library was scheduled for demolition in the mid-1970s, concerned citizens formed the Conservancy to save the rotunda, the exterior limestone sculptures, and the library's many other architectural treasures. The group finally convinced the City Council to preserve the library in 1983, after years of public discussion, debate, and book-sniffing sit-ins. Ever since, it has advocated for greater Los Angeles's historic sites and educated people about the city's architectural heritage. The Conservancy is responsible for saving and revitalizing landmarks such as the former Cathedral of St. Vibiana, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House, and the world’s oldest remaining McDonald’s restaurant.
To accomplish its mission, the membership-based nonprofit offers a number of ways people can experience these beautiful and storied places. The Last Remaining Seats series earned a Reader Recommendation for Best Film Series and Best Downtown Event in the Los Angeles Downtown News' 2012 poll, in which the conservancy’s walking tours also earned the title of Best Downtown Tour. But the organization does more than save grandiose public buildings: increasingly, it also focuses on smaller community projects such as garden apartments and sites that reflect the area's rich Latino culture.
Executive director and 20-year Conservancy veteran Linda Dishman explained to Patt Morrison of the Los Angeles Times, "People are becoming more vocal. …That's one of the great secrets about Los Angeles: People really identify with their neighborhoods." The Conservancy also presents annual preservation awards to honor the efforts of individuals who fight to save places such as Pann’s Coffee Shop and Griffith Observatory.
Where can future brides and grooms sample a piece of Sylvia Weinstock cake, admire the latest Vera Wang couture wedding gown, and get Bobbi Brown beauty tips, all under one roof? At venues from Los Angeles to New York, where Wedding Salon founder, Tatiana Byron, has organized a one-day luxury wedding showcase boasting some of the top vendors in the industry, introducing big-day ideas from top area vendors such as The Registry at Bloomingdale's, AMResorts, Lancome at Bergdorf Goodman, The Container Store, Magnolia Photo Booth, and celebrity wedding experts. Each event is designed to make attendees feel like guests at a sophisticated wedding, only the fellow partygoers might be celebrity wedding planners David Tutera or Colin Cowie, or dessert connoisseurs from Carlo?s Bakery ?the bakery behind TLC?s Cake Boss.
Byron has been cultivating her all-star connections for more than a decade. After working at Turner Broadcasting System and directing sales, marketing, and production for a trade-show company, she created her own planning company, 4pm Events. Byron began coordinating parties for famous faces including Joan Rivers, Mary J. Blige, and Lionel Richie?no easy task, given the limited number of vendors willing to build dance floors on the ceiling. Byron went on to create Wedding Salon expos to give future brides a taste of celebrity-caliber elegance. She also offers educational wedding boot camps that help duos avoid hidden costs and learn tips for planning their special day. Byron's services have been highlighted in numerous media, including features in the New York Times, the New York Post, and Fortune Small Business.
Featured in Bloomberg Businessweek and frequented by celebrity parents from Gwen Stefani to Halle Berry, Giggles N' Hugs caters to kids' boundless energy with a spacious play area alongside a restaurant that fuels little bellies with healthful fare. On the colorful play space's pirate ship, mini swashbucklers can climb rope ladders to the deck, ascend the crow's nest, or swoop down the slide to sword-fight with imaginary narwhals. Elsewhere, a lavender castle protects princesses from the wall mural's cartoon dragons, as rocking horses and a jungle gym distract the kingdom's squires. All the while, friendly staffers, certified in CPR and first aid, supervise and play with children, ensuring their safety and full engagement.
The play center also sates hungry tummies of all ages with a catering menu, brimming with fresh fare and rich cupcakes. Party hosts and their guests can tuck forks into salads featuring everything from beets to barbecue chicken, or snag sandwiches and wraps such as the Asian-inspired citrus tuna wrap cradled in whole-wheat lavash. Chocolate and vanilla cupcakes fulfill everyone's sweet cravings, salvaging the party when the magician accidentally saws the cake in half.
Leigh Ann grew up as an actor who was also an athlete: when she was offstage, the SoCal native dove off springboards, jumped hurdles, and fought on the kickboxing mat. Her knack for blending art with athleticism led her to found BeSpun at the age of 25. Leigh Ann competes and receives top honors at national and regional pole-dance competitions, and she has produced and starred in a series of instructional DVDs.
At BeSpun, Leigh Ann and her fellow instructors—also pole-dance champions—teach an extensive array of classes that include single-session and multiweek workshops. Classes’ subject matter ranges from beginners' lessons to master workshops led by special guests. There’s also open-studio time, as well as classes that focus on specialties such as spinning, stretching, and whittling your own pole from a chrome tree trunk. Instructors focus on leading thorough sessions that use time efficiently, and they’re committed to blending fitness with dance training. A lighthearted FAQ page answers potential questions while giving a taste of the studio’s fun-loving atmosphere.
Zoom Room?s dog training facilities have one cardinal rule: owners must be present during class. This is because humans need just as much training as their canine companions when building confidence and communication, and it?s important that owners learn the best positive-reinforcement techniques from the knowledgeable staff. Group classes cover topics ranging from general obedience and agility training to more specific needs such as overcoming shyness. Other classes include Urban Herding, where dogs herd exercise balls into soccer goals indoors, Scent Work, where dogs learn to sniff out missing car keys or the TV remote, and Pup-lates, which is geared toward overweight or senior dogs, or those recovering from an injury.
In fact, improving canine social skills is one of Zoom Room?s missions, as evidenced by the regularly hosted fundraiser events and Doggy Disco parties, which give dogs a chance to meet other dogs and expand away from their inner circle of fire hydrants. This combination of training and fun, in addition to the facility?s selection of solution-oriented training gear, natural dog treats, and functional dog accessories, has garnered an array of local and national press.
An AT&T ad executive hangs up the phone, grabs his jacket, and heads toward the subway to Hell's Kitchen. It's the late '80s, and at the New York comedy institution The Improv, a slew of up-and-coming talent, including Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock, are testing jokes and honing timing. In the next few years, they'll perform on television for millions. But for now, they're changing the life of one ad executive.
The founder of LA Stand-Ups, Joe Falzarano, quit his promising advertising career because he "hated being a suit" and preferred to nurture promising young comedians. With accomplishments that include producing the CableACE Award–winning Caroline's Comedy Hour for A&E, Falzarano helped launch the performing and writing careers of entertainers including Jon Stewart and Louis C.K. Today, Falzarano imparts his more than 20 years of industry experience to aspiring joke-tellers, teaching them tactics for perfecting a punch line, calming nerves, and subduing hecklers with a marshmallow gun. Falzarano maintains a supportive atmosphere where students learn how to use who they are to connect with an audience, and even lets students try out material at the Hollywood Improv.