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Category: City Beat

City Beat: A crash course on Indian weddings

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Knowledge of white dresses and waltzes may be enough in some places. In the Southern California wedding business, it will get you only so far.

For my latest City Beat, I attended "Indian Weddings 101," a seminar to help planners expand their business into new communities.

Citybeat

It was hosted by Wedding Store 24, a bridal clearinghouse in Artesia's Little India, and held in the old L.A. grandeur of the Ebell of Los Angeles, a women's club.

Musicians played tabla and Indian slide guitar. Bollywood dancers swirled and twirled. And a series of speakers gave the lowdown on the basics of Hindu and Muslim wedding ceremonies, Indian wedding etiquette, henna art and Bollywood.

Read my latest City Beat on Indian weddings Southern California-style

And keep reading to check out the photos and videos I sent out on Twitter:

Continue reading »

City Beat: Vito Vincent the cat heads from Hollywood to Broadway

Remember Vito Vincent, the tabby cat who came out west to try to make his way in Hollywood?

I wrote about his quest for acting gigs in a front-page story last March.

In reporting the story, I dined with Vito Vincent and his owner, Michael LeCrichia, at an outdoor cafe at the Grove -- and throughout the meal, as music played and hundreds of people passed by, the cat sat perfectly calmly all by himself in a chair.

Citybeat

At the Grove, he moved with assurance on a leash, walking in and out of stores -- and in the process turning so many heads, he even attracted his own paparazzo.

The story -- and accompanying video -- of the supremely calm cat got Vito Vincent a lot of attention, but, alas, no TV or movie offers. So he and LeCrichia eventually headed back home to the East Coast.

Last year, Vito Vincent nabbed a campaign for an online card company as well as a Target ad. (You might see him soon on billboards, says LeCrichia. Look for the cat in the yellow slicker.)

This year, he got his first big break -- on Broadway.

Vito Vincent has just been chosen to play Cat in a new production of "Breakfast at Tiffany's," starring Emilia Clarke (of "Game of Thrones" fame) and now in previews at the Cort Theatre.

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City Beat: Elizabeth Taylor's engagement ring, jewels on display

Elizabeth Taylor
Starting Wednesday, Bulgari will welcome the public to a small exhibit on its boutique's second floor featuring eight signature pieces of jewelry once owned by Elizabeth Taylor.

Bulgari reacquired them after Taylor's death — in particular, spending many millions of dollars at a 2011 Christie's auction. 

Among the pieces are emeralds and diamonds galore, in the engagement ring Richard Burton gave to Taylor and a brooch and necklace he also bought for her. The brooch and necklace each went for more than $6 million at Christie's.Citybeat

There are no visible price tags at Bulgari, and Taylor's jewels are not for sale. But Bulgari expects many people will want to see them while they're on display, through March 10. 

It may be possible to walk in off the street, but making an appointment is best, the staff says. The phone number for Bulgari in Beverly Hills is (310) 858-9216.

Look for my next City Beat on Elizabeth Taylor's jewels.

Keep reading here to see the story, in photos and videos, I sent out on Twitter from the scene:

Continue reading »

City Beat: Elizabeth Taylor jewels on display on Rodeo Drive

Elizabeth Taylor

It isn't easy sometimes to be an ordinary person in Los Angeles -- so near to and yet so far from the city's glamorous big events.

You hear about the grand Oscar parties but you'll never be invited. The award ceremony may be happening walking distance from where you live, but you watch it at home, on TV, in your sweatpants -- just as you might do if you were in Dubuque.

Citybeat

Rodeo Drive's most chic boutiques can make you feel like an outsider too. As you stroll the gleaming sidewalks of downtown Beverly Hills, you stare in the windows at baubles and trinkets that you could never in three lifetimes afford.

Which is why it feels rather nice to be encouraged to make a private appointment at Bulgari -- the fine Italian jeweler in business since 1884. 

Starting Wednesday, Bulgari will welcome the public to a small exhibit on its boutique's second floor featuring eight signature pieces of jewelry once owned by Elizabeth Taylor.

Bulgari reacquired them after Taylor's death -- in particular, spending many millions at a 2011 Christie's auction. 

Among the pieces are emeralds and diamonds galore, in the engagement ring Richard Burton gave to Taylor and a brooch and necklace he gave her to celebrate their engagement and marriage, respectively. The brooch and the necklace each went for more than $6 million at Christie's.

There are no visible price tags at Bulgari. And Taylor's jewels are not for sale. But Bulgari expects many people to want to see them while they're on display, through March 10. 

It may be possible to walk in off the street, but making an appointment is best, the staff says. The phone number for Bulgari in Beverly Hills is (310) 858-9216.

Look for my next City Beat on Elizabeth Taylor's jewels.

Keep reading here to see the story, in photos and videos, I sent out on Twitter from the scene:

Continue reading »

City Beat: What's Irish about a Hollywood mini-mall?

Irish

There are no green rolling hills here, no thatched cottages or bogs. But the spirit of Ireland is alive and well in a Hollywood mini-mall.

The Irish Import Shop has been around for 50 years. In a little brown shopping center on Vine Street, it's wedged between a nail salon and a dry cleaner.  Other neighbors include check cashing business, a Subway, a tattoo parlor and a pawn shop.

But step inside the shop and you might just feel transported elsewhere.

Citybeat

Often, the owner, Anne Colburn, burns little dabs of peat -- so the shop smells like being home by the fire in Ireland. She's stocked the place with many Irish classics, kitschy and otherwise: hand-carved Celtic crosses, Claddagh rings, egg cups shaped like leprechaun hats, Aran sweaters, tweed caps from Donegal and heathery capes woven in Kerry. 

It's obviously the place to come for all things shamrocks on St. Paddy's Day.

But the biggest draw, Colburn says, is the northernmost aisle -- and not just for homesick Irish people. Brits, Australians, South Africans and people from the Caribbean visit this aisle, full of Irish and British sweets, biscuits and drinks. A freezer holds Irish sausage and rashers (bacon), as well as black and white pudding and frozen rounds of soda bread. 

People come for the favorite foods from home. But they stay to chat and reminisce, Colburn says. 

Read more about the Irish Import Shop as a home away from home here in my latest City Beat story.

And scroll down here to check out my photos of the shop in the visual reporter's notebook I sent out on Twitter:

 -- Nita Lelyveld

Follow City Beat on Twitter at @latimescitybeat and on Facebook. Send ideas for City Beat dispatches to nita.lelyveld@latimes.com.

Photo: Andrew MacNamara, originally from Dublin, Ireland, shops in the food aisle at the Irish Import Shop in Hollywood. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times / January 30, 2013)

City Beat: Errors encouraged on one company's Failure Wall

Natalia Williams, a marketing coordinator with Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. in Malibu, writes on the failure wall.
We all make mistakes. We don't all write them on a wall -- in permanent marker.

But at one local company, such public confessions are encouraged.

Jeff Stibel, chief executive of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp., believes we learn much more from failures than we do from successes. So he created a Failure Wall in his Malibu headquarters to get workers to take ownership of -- and so grow from -- their slip-ups.

CitybeatlogoThe wall is 15 feet long and 10 feet high. To help break the ice and convince people to write on it, Stibel stenciled on the wall a handful of quotations about the benefits of failure. 

He also wrote the first entry himself, using a Sharpie marker. 

Now so many people write on the wall, it sometimes has to be repainted to make room for more public admissions.

Read the whole story of the Failure Wall in my latest City Beat.

Here's the story -- in photos -- that I sent out on Twitter:

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City Beat: Huell Howser's life is celebrated at Griffith Park

Huell Howser memorial
Huell Howser had so many fans. On Tuesday, they came out by the hundreds to celebrate him.

At an afternoon memorial at Griffith Park Observatory, they swapped stories, laughed and cried, and talked about him as if he were an old friend, even if they'd only watched him on TV.

Citybeat

For three decades, Howser -- who died last week at 67 -- explored California's people and places for his homespun television shows.

At the observatory, people talked about all the adventures they'd had because of him, how they had set out in search of the obscure landmarks and hole-in-the-wall diners he introduced them to in his travels.

PHOTOS: Remembering Huell Howser | Career in pictures

L.A. Councilman Tom LaBonge organized the event, which included speakers and a flyover by an LAPD helicopter.

Just before sunset, as LaBonge stood on the observatory steps, music began playing from speakers. It was Howser singing his "California Gold" theme song, "California, Here I Come." LaBonge urged everyone to sing along. As the song played over and over again, people joined him on the steps, singing and dancing.

Continue reading »
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About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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