Prime people-watching on a California coastal ride

At the Manhattan Beach Pier, the bike path slices between a bed of sea roses and the beach.


At the Manhattan Beach Pier, the bike path slices between a bed of sea roses and the beach.



SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Here’s a curious bit of advice for a bike ride that’s packed with prime moments of people-watching: Start early, when the sands are still slightly chilly and the folks still snoozing.

Wheeling south past the famed Santa Monica Pier, you can watch the beach day unfold over your handlebars. Massive mechanized sand-movers manicure the shoreline; workers broom away sand from the bike path, which locals dub “The Strand.’’
And, with this path largely your own, you can blast through the series of whip-winding curves bisecting the sand from Santa Monica south to Venice Beach.

Here as well as most of the places along this 15-mile pedal south to Hermosa Beach, The Strand is a part of, not apart from, the beach. And with a few exceptions, it’s a wide, inviting beach.


Venice Beach, of course, is where the people-watching entertainment reaches its zenith. At this time of day, however, the beach is largely empty except for a handful of city workers and transients.

The next mile from Venice Beach is a compilation of contrasts. The course takes its most significant shift from the sands into the streets as you zig, zag, zig, around Marina del Rey. And the people you pass could not be more different, from the homeless woman sleeping at an entrance to a Venice bathhouse to the well-dressed man walking out of a marina-front condo at del Ray, a black Pomeranian leashed to his wrist, a white one perched in a baby chariot.

Once you’ve skirted Marina del Ray, a succession of beaches awaits, each with their quirks.


The northern part of Dockweiler State Beach rumbles with the roar of jets taking off from Los Angeles International Airport less than a mile east. A line of freighters breaks the horizon to the west. It’s a touch of Castle Island, without the weekday crowds and with a large beach.

At times, a touch of bracing wildness can surprise you. At the southern part of this beach, small bluffs have formed, allowing hang-gliders a chance to feel the sky beneath their feet. It’s here that The Strand most becomes an antidote to Los Artifices. In this place shaped by the elemental forces of wind and sea, the columns after columns after columns of concrete and stuttering miles of brake lights of the nation’s second-most populous city seem a continent away.

Yet “civilized’’ forces are always a few pedals down the path. At El Segundo, The Strand is bracketed by three massive red-white stacks of a water and power facility on your left and 18 blue volleyball nets to your right, Stop for a moment and listen to the insistent, caressing sounds of the surf against a few contrapuntal hisses from the release of steam out of the plant.

The next beach, Manhattan, can be its own destination, its focal point a long pier bisecting the beach. Walk to the end of the pier, grab a cup of French press coffee at the cafe kiosk there, and look to the open west. In front of you, dolphins pass about 100 yards out, queued in a long line as if they were on a looping commute north. Behind you, toward the beach and on both sides of the pier, surfers and paddleboarders bob and buoy, awaiting deliverance. Underfoot, scores of large medallions are embedded into the concrete — the Beach Volleyball Walk of Fame. Manhattan considers itself the birthplace of beach volleyball, and you’ll be stepping around some giants of the sport, including Karch Kiraly and Kerri Walsh Jennings.

On the ride from Manhattan to Hermosa Beach, you can tap your inner voyeur. Glass walls become billboards into the interiors of multimillion-dollar homes, a mere yard from the path. At one point, the path diverges, the lower artery for bikers, the upper for pedestrians, with strips of gardens between. The scent from the rosemary plants and flowers offer a savory sweet contrast to the briny sea.

At Hermosa, bag a patio table at Good Stuff at The Strand (13th Street). Here, the world of bikers, walkers, runners, rollerbladers, skateboarders parades past. Beyond this promenade, beach volleyball games are in full tilt. And beyond that, nothing but the blue of the Pacific.

Good Stuff offers a rotation of local brews (the red ale is recommended). Try the chicken lime soup with tortilla strips, the tang of the lime zips across the salt of this American staple.

The return ride will be markedly slower, for you will need to jockey among the many walkers, skateboarders, and other bicyclists. One surprising, and a little disarming, phenomenon: the vast number of folks of all kinds talking aloud and animatedly to no one, at least no one visible, their arms in full flail. Sometimes they have earbuds and a phone; sometimes not. In either case, a wide loop around them is wise.

Back at Venice Beach, the transformation is complete. It’s best to dismount and walk your bike through the crowds. But take a few minutes to take in the sights, where the circus becomes the town.

Storefronts pitch everything from T-shirts to “The Truth.’’ One sign seeks to lure visitors inside for a freak show for a small admission. Really? With such glorious variety of life for free, outside?

Folks young or wrinkly are walking posters plastered in tattoos and studded by piercings. Some hawk such delights as “Black Magic Saliva’’ and “Traditional Skulls.’’ Been pining to get your name on a grain of rice?

Exhibitionists and amateurs alike whip around the valleys and ridges of the nearby skate park, sheathed in a crowd of spectators.

As you approach Santa Monica, watch the fully fit and the fitful take their turns at the balance beams, slack lines, climbing poles, and other devices. This is the original Muscle Beach.

If you still have a few twitches left in your quad muscles, pedal past the pier to Malibu. The shifting late afternoon night transcends Will Rogers State Park here.


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10 Incredible Omelets to Try in Los Angeles

Photo: Matthew Kang

Some people may argue that eating an omelet in a restaurant is foolish, but not when chefs combine skillful technique and premium ingredients to levels that most people couldn’t possibly replicate at home.

In America, omelet is generally the preferred spelling for the egg dish that’s folded around assorted fillings, but in the dish’s country of origin, France, people will shoot a side-eyed glance if not using the classic omelette spelling. French-inspired restaurants or French-trained chefs always prefer an omelette spelling.

Regardless, you now know about 10 of L.A.’s best omelet(te)s all loaded with ingredients from the land and sea and listed in alphabetical order.

The Breakfast Bar

Omelet Los Angeles
The Breakfast Bar’s omelet casserole is fun mash-up.
Joshua Lurie

The Breakfast Bar, a downtown Long Beach restaurant from Josh and Pamela Beadel, Uncle Marcel’s omelet casserole may be their most notable menu item. This fun breakfast mash-up honors Pamela Beadel’s great uncle. A skillet of egg, Jack cheese, and milk is made 24 hours in advance and baked to order, resulting in fluffy texture and crisp edges. The ceramic boat’s squiggled with spiced sour cream seasoned with Gindo’s fresh & spicy pepper sauce. Each plate comes with cooling pico de gallo, a crispy potato pancake, and fruit cup. 70 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, 562.726.1700,


Omelette Los Angeles
No charcoal was used to make this omelet.
Joshua Lurie

Josiah Citrin went more casual in his follow-up to high-end Mélisse. At Charcoal near the Venice border, he and chef de cuisine Joseph Johnson apply similar attention to detail to more recognizable and California-influenced dishes. Their three-egg omelette, available during weekend brunch, is prepared using textbook French technique. A fluffy omelet cradles wilted spinach, avocado, aged Cheddar, grilled spring onion, and tomato. Each order comes with roasted potatoes, an intensely flavorful tomato, and mixed greens. 425 Washington Blvd., Marina del Rey, 310.751.6794,

Connie & Ted’s

Omelette Los Angeles
Of course seafood factors into Connie & Ted’s omelette.
Joshua Lurie

Weekend brunch from Neptune-like chef Michael Cimarusti and front-of-house partner Donato Poto at their postmodern New England-inspired seafood “shack” showcases some beautiful dishes. Their whisper-thin omelette contains a sweet cache of two sweet-fleshed crustaceans: peeky toe crab and lobster. Each long and lean specimen arrives on a luscious bed of fines herbes beurre blanc. The omelette’s dusted with more herbs and served with house-baked, buttered, and grilled Pullman bread. 8171 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, 323.848.2722,


Omelet Los Angeles
Farmshop’s herbaceous omelet stars at breakfast.
Joshua Lurie

Chef-owner Jeffrey Cerciello opened one of the Westside’s first multi-faceted food businesses in 2010. Culinary Director Brian Reimer and Executive sous chef Jacob Wetherington steer the Farmshop ship at Brentwood Country Mart on a daily basis for their Marin-based boss. To find omelet glory, bypass the bakery, deli, and market and settle into the airy restaurant. A supple rolled omelet is studded with soft herbs and comes with fried fingerling potatoes dressed with chives and caramelized onions, and a buttery, toasted, house-baked croissant. 225 26th St., Santa Monica, 310.566.2400,


Omelet Los Angeles
Jitlada helps show that not all omelets are French-inspired.
Joshua Lurie

Chef Suthiporn “Tui” Sungkamee and gregarious sister Sarintip “Jazz” Singsanong opened Pandora’s box on their southern Thai repertoire and recipes continue to spill on to the menu, which is now way more than 300 dishes deep. Blink and you’ll miss kua kling, a fluffy omelet packet stuffed with a fiery blend of ground pork, Thai chilies, and turmeric-stained curry. Each order comes with a tangy chile sauce and complementary roughage: red bell pepper, carrot, cabbage and cilantro. 5233 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, 323.667.9809,

Odys + Penelope

Omelette Los Angeles
Ham and cheese fill Odys + Penelope’s omelette.
Joshua Lurie

At Odys + Penelope, the industrial chic restaurant from chefs Karen and Quinn Hatfield on a fashionable stretch of La Brea, wood-fire works wonders. During weekend brunch, wood smoke even factors into their silky, slow-baked omelette. A near perfect disc is folded over, cradling house-smoked ham and molten Swiss cheese, featuring a gooey center with crisp edges. Each omelette comes topped with a dollop of smoked hazelnut tomato Romesco and served with lemon herb salad. 127 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, 323.939.1033,


Omelet Los Angeles
Japanese omelets can be delicious.
Joshua Lurie

Otafuku is a standout izakaya in a crowded South Bay field. The unassuming Japanese pub has a deep menu that includes more dishes than most people can try in a month. Their Japanese-style omelet is always worth ordering. Each juicy slab is seasoned with a sauce of dashi, mirin, and salt, sliced, and served with mashed daikon. 16525 S. Western Ave., Gardena, 310.532.9348

Petit Trois

Omelette Los Angeles
Ludo’s omelet is a Petit Trois signature dish.
Joshua Lurie

Ludo has become famous for his omelette at the French bistro he runs in Hollywood with Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo. Sidle up to the marble counter and order a gloriously runny five-egg omelette that’s loaded with Boursin pepper cheese, garnished with chives and sea salt, and served with butter lettuce salad with Dijon vinaigrette, shallots and grape seed oil. Make use of your crusty, pull-apart baguette from baker Colleen DeLee that’s studded with sea salt and doubles as a terrific delivery system for your rich, cheesy eggs. 718 Highland Ave., Los Angeles, 323.468.8916,


Omelette Los Angeles
Wild mushrooms star in Republique’s omelette.

Republique, the ambitious French bistro and bakery from Walter Manzke and talented pastry chef/wife Margarita, gets things cranking early in the day. Sidestep enough pastry case temptations to save room for their mushroom omelette. The Manzkes make regular appearances at the Santa Monica Farmers Market to stockpile seasonal ingredients, including rotating wild mushrooms. Recent configurations have included chanterelle & porcini mushrooms with goat cheese and spinach; and chanterelle mushrooms with Gruyere and summer herbs. Every delicate omelette comes with arugula salad. 624 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, 310.362.6115,

Square One Dining

Omelet Los Angeles
Square One makes L.A.’s second cheesiest omelet.
Joshua Lurie

Square One Dining has been in the Church of Scientology’s blue shadow for years. The spinoff from John Himelstein, D’Nell Larson, and Manao Davidson in Silver Lake’s Hyperion Plaza is just as pleasant (and “stress test” free). Order at the counter from a blackboard menu, and by all means get the herb omelet. A vivid yellow coat is studded with parsley, tarragon, chervil, and chives. A slightly runny center cradles tangy goat cheese. Each order comes roasted skin-on potato cubes tossed with garlic and parsley and poppy seeded toast. 2630 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake, 213.220.0938,

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Swan, flamingo and Pegasus pool floats. How one L.A. business blew up after a nod from Taylor Swift By Ronald D. White

Katy Perry admires a sunset as her inflated seahorse waits nearby. Demi Lovato lounges on a pair of giant red cherries amid impossibly turquoise waters. Wiz Khalifa somehow stays afloat on a flamingo despite all that bling.

As celebrities and regular folks fill the Web with selfies aboard fanciful inflatables, it makes sense that some entrepreneurs helping pump up the craze live in a spot known for sun, pools, fame and narcissism: Venice Beach.

“When people think of summer, we want them to think of Funboy,” said Blake Barrett, one-fourth of the company’s founding group, which also includes his wife, brother and sister-in-law. “We want to be part of the best days of the lives of our customers.”

From left, Celeste Barrett, her husband Max Barrett, Blake Barrett and wife Raquel Barrett sit on their 'rainbow cloud daybed' pool float in Venice. The brothers and their wives founded Funboy in 2015. Then a Taylor Swift Instagram selfie with their pool floats went viral.
From left, Celeste Barrett, her husband Max Barrett, Blake Barrett and wife Raquel Barrett sit on their ‘rainbow cloud daybed’ pool float in Venice. The brothers and their wives founded Funboy in 2015. Then a Taylor Swift Instagram selfie with their pool floats went viral. (Ronald D. White / Los Angeles Times)

The two couples were vacationing in the Caribbean when they first got the idea. And they were partying on the Fourth of July shortly after launching their small collection when they got the celebrity endorsement that blew up the business.

Taylor Swift, they learned, had loaded her Instagram feed with shots of well-known swimsuit-clad friends celebrating Independence Day 2015 aboard Funboy’s swan, flamingo and Pegasus floats. Swift captioned them: “Swan squad.” The snaps went viral.

“Our company had been open for three weeks. We didn’t even know who made the order,” Max Barrett said.

“That summer was so humbling,” he said. “There were people coming to Taylor Swift’s concerts bringing our pool floats, like trying to re-create the pool experience, and from there, it just caught on naturally.”

By catching on naturally, Barrett means that the company went from three float styles in its first year to six times that number this summer. All that free celebrity advertising drew not only customers but also competitors, including big-box retailers such as Target Corp. and online giant Inc.

It wasn’t a given that anyone would want to buy the luxury floats, which include angel wings, a mermaid and a peacock. The products range in price from $24 for a single drink holder to $169 for a floating rainbow-cloud bed.

Funboy has branched out to a bomber jacket ($169) and beach towels ($69). There’s even a 1.5-liter Funboy rose wine with a white wax top, produced by Del Dotto Vineyards in Napa Valley, that sells for $75.

“When it’s the Fourth of July and people are posting with our products, that’s something we can’t take for granted, and so we need to continue to innovate,” Blake said. “We very much want to be the next large global lifestyle brand.”

Funboy has moved beyond pool floats to beach towels and apparel, such as the Bikini Bomber shown here.
Funboy has moved beyond pool floats to beach towels and apparel, such as the Bikini Bomber shown here. (Funboy)

For the Barretts — Blake, Max, Raquel and Celeste — the company represents the culmination of years of shared work and educational experience, with some romance along the way.

Blake,33, studied communications at USC before getting an MBA from the University of Washington, where he met future wife Raquel. Blake’s pre-Funboy efforts included working on a team that helped roll out the Windows 8 computer operating system to toiling at start-ups. The experiences taught him “the ups, downs, perils, triumphs of going through hyper growth and fundraising.”

Raquel, 33, earned an MBA from the University of Washington and then worked for a tech start-up that “really taught me how you have to wear many hats and become an expert in the various facets of marketing and also stay on top of the changing trends.”

Max, 30, studied business and international affairs at the University of Colorado. An internship took him to see factories in China, and he later landed a job that helped him learn about “manufacturing, sourcing, creating, product development.”

Max and future wife Celeste, 28, first crossed paths at their Seattle high school. She went on to learn about fine art, advertising and media design at the University of Colorado-Boulder, followed by studying interior architecture at UCLA and then worked for interior designer Kelly Wearstler.

It was during a family vacation in Anguilla in the British West Indies that the idea for a company took shape. Both brothers had been competitive swimmers and all four loved the water. Social media sharing was exploding. Why not a fun product like pool floats that people would share with each other online?

“Let’s create the coolest pool floats you’ve ever seen,” Blake said, recalling the brainstorming session. “Let’s put a whole bunch of thought, design, art direction to it, like let’s create functional art that you can hang out with by the lake, in your pool, and that was really the genesis for it.”

All four Barretts share the title of co-founders. Max is also the product lead, Celeste is the creative lead, Raquel is the brand lead and Blake has the title of partner lead. They seem to have suffered none of the pitfalls of mixing family and business.

“Being a family makes us agile, makes us flexible, makes us nimble,” Raquel said. “We are able to get things done very quickly, and given all of our different backgrounds, we really complement each other. People have no idea that there are just four of us behind the scenes, managing every aspect of the business from design to manufacturing to fulfillment to customer service.”

Two other things appear to help sales. Most of the floats run in limited editions of as few as 300, leading to a sense of urgency among prospective buyers. In addition, Funboy consults with and commissions professional artists to do the float designs.

One was fine art photographer and New York Times bestselling author Grey Malin. Another was artist and illustrator Donald Robertson, former creative director of Estee Lauder.

When people think of summer, we want them to think of Funboy.

— Blake Barrett, one-fourth of the company’s founding group

Donald Robertson, former creative director of Estee Lauder, collaborated with Funboy to create mermaid-inspired floats.

For artist collaborations, Celeste said: “We look in the fashion world, we look in the art world, because we feel like our floats are definitely a convergence of the two.”

A beach photograph by Malin was superimposed on a swan float that quickly sold out.

Robertson said what interested him in collaborating with Funboy this year was the evolving face of advertising and art.

“What I found is in my industry, in the beauty industry, we’re sort of ruled by the selfie, and pool floats are the ultimate selfie background,” said Robertson, who wound up fashioning huge lip floats, among other things.

All of Funboy’s products are designed in California. The beach towels are made in local textile factories and the floats are manufactured in Asia. The Barretts declined to talk about sales numbers or be specific about their product sources to avoid giving rivals any ideas.

Although competition abounds, the Barretts think that they have an edge and don’t see their business as a short-term fad.

“We are for the people who refuse to grow up,” Blake said. “Funboy is part of all of us who want to live out those summer experiences and share them with other people.”

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Venice’s Fearless Activist Artists

The Social Public Art Resource Center (SPARC)’s latest exhibition makes a powerful statement warning of the perils of global warming and the exploitation of natural resources.

Celebrating activism through art, Venice locals and Los Angeles art lovers will head to the Durón Gallery inside SPARC’s headquarters at 685 Venice Blvd., on Saturday, July 15, to witness the unveiling of the latest contribution to Artist Judy Baca’s, The World Wall: A Vision of the Future Without Fear.

Canada is the latest country to contribute to the World Wall. “The Inuit Send the World a Canary” by lead artist Tania Godoroja Pearse highlights the profound and uncontrolled destruction of Canadian life and landscapes.

The 10 foot by 30-foot mural holds many stories. A geologist turned environmental activist, Godoroja Pearse’s husband, Tony Godoroja Pearse has helped with much of the research behind each issue represented in the piece.

“Tony always calls this our voracious appetite for consuming everything. We can’t stop driving our cars. We need more and more and more and more. But it’s also the pillaging of the earth and the crying earth,” Godoroja Pearse told Yo! Venice, pointing to a pipe spilling a brown-black fountain of oil into the open mouth of a pained face.

Godoroja Pearse’s piece also includes the image of a young woman holding a hat from which spills binary code that spells “we are all connected.” It is a nod, not only to the connectedness of all humans and the earth but also, the connecting of people via another kind of world web, “First Nations communities in the North are using the internet for keeping in touch with movements like Idle No More. So they’re all interconnected,” said Godoroja Pearse.

An idea future without fear for Godoroja Pearse is “to stay connected with nature and to teach young children to find the magic in the microscopic…taking your kids to a tide pool or a walk through the forest because that spurs questions and investigations of all kinds.”

“The Inuit Send the World a Canary” has been almost a decade in the making and once ready to start the painting, Godoroja Pearse faced the dilemma of finding a studio big enough on Canada’s tiny Mayne Island. In the end, “we painted it in a neighbor’s tractor shed.”

The World Wall: A Vision of the Future Without Fear began its global travels in the early 90’s in Finland, “as an area for dialogue,” Baca told Yo! Venice. After Finland, the installation traveled to Russia at the fall of the Communist Party. “We were invited by daughters and sons of Enemies of the State to open in Gorky Park.”

Baca and her team shipped over a ton of art into Russia for the exhibition. “It was the first American exhibit of any scale. It was an amazing experience. Over 150,000 people came,” said Baca.

Whether supporting nuclear disarmament, celebrating the fall of dictators, or challenging climate change; the installation has always found its way into cities at a tipping point. Except for the unveiling of the Israeli/Palestinian contribution which had to be moved from Jerusalem to Fodor because “the Green Line went down and the fighting had begun,” said Baca.

The idea for the World Wall came from Baca’s Great Wall, a half-mile mural in the San Fernando Valley’s Tujunga Flood Control Channel that shares the history California’s ethnic people from prehistoric times through to the 1950’s.

“At a time when we’d gotten to the 1980’s, and we were in an escalation of the arms build up in the United States, and my kids said, ‘you know what? We should get a ship,’ and they wanted to sail around the world and have murals done in every country. Regan had become elected President. He was a big war and arms build up guy, so that’s when we started thinking about it,” said Baca.

While the ship part was perhaps a little over ambitious, Baca still thought a globe trotting installation was, “a really cool idea.”

The World Wall examines contemporary issues of global importance: war, peace, cooperation, environment, interdependence, and spiritual growth. Currently made up of nine 10-foot by 30-foot portable panels, in its completed state, the mural will include fourteen works, seven by artists from different nations, and seven led by Baca. Currently, eight works are complete with plans in the pipeline to commission murals from Australia and Cuba.

The exhibition opens tonight and runs until October 13, in the Durón Gallery at SPARC’s historic headquarters, the Old Venice Police Station at 685 Venice Blvd., Venice, CA 90291

When: 6:00 pm Saturday, July 15 – October 13, 2017.

Where: The Durón Gallery. SPARC headquarters at 685 Venice Blvd.

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Adidas opens Originals store in California

Adidas has opened a store in Los Angeles dedicated to its Originals brand, part of the sportswear company’s ongoing effort to connect with consumers in the most important U.S. cities.

The store, on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in the Venice neighborhood, features classic streetwear such as the Stan Smith and Superstar and new products such as the NMB, EQT and Iniki. Adidas will use the 5,900-square-foot space for events with musicians and influential sneaker collectors.

“We love the Venice neighborhood for what it represents – creativity and individuality,” said Simon Atkins, Adidas brand director, in a news release. “When creating the store, our philosophy was to capture the unique and authentic spirit of Venice and give its creators, artists, musicians and trendsetters another place to come and be inspired. Every single detail of the store, from local art installations to the curated community spaces were inspired by this vibrant community.”

At an investor presentation last year, Adidas said it is focusing on on six cities: Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Tokyo and Shanghai. It expects to double sales in each city over the next five years.

“The influence of global metropolitan areas on trends and brands cannot be overstated,” said Christopher Williams, Adidas vice president of commercial planning and development, at the time.

Adidas has its North American headquarters in Portland.

Washington County-based Nike also is focusing on key cities. Last month, the company identified 12 key cities: New York, London, Shanghai, Beijing, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Paris, Berlin, Mexico City, Barcelona, Seoul and Milan. Nike said it expects the cities to account for more than 80 percent of its projected growth through 2020.


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