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When you're in LA you simply must visit The Broad; get the low-down here | It Started in LA |
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You simply MUST visit The Broad

You simply MUST visit the The Broad.


I know, I can hear you asking me: What’s the Broad?


Well, The Broad is a contemporary art museum in Downtown LA.


I know, I can still hear you: Contemporary art museum in LA?  Isn’t LA all about entertainment (celebrities), fitness (hiking and kale salad) and amusement parks (no need to explain them)?


Absolutely not! There is more to LA than good looks, expensive cars and getting an acting/producing gig.


Whether you’re planning your first trip to LA or you’re a seasoned veteran you simply must visit the Broad.


The Broad

(pronounced like it rhymes with road—not as in Broad beans)


Like I said, The Broad is a contemporary art museum in Downtown LA in a fabulous purpose-built building. The Broad opened its doors to the public on September 20, 2105. And it’s been gang-busters ever since.  According to a recent press release it attracted more than 820,000 visitors in its inaugural year–nearly triple its pre-opening projections and the largest first-year attendance of a new art institution in the US in recent years. Take that New York.


The Broad: the low-down

1. The collection is private—Eli & Edythe Broad’s own collection.

As an Australian (or anyone for that matter!), this is incredible on so many levels.


Clearly massive art lovers they’ve taken art appreciation to a whole new level.  It’s not all “theirs,” but rather they set up a foundation so the public can have access to and appreciate art as well.


Known as the Broad Art Foundation, the Broad is made up of a combination of the Foundation’s and their own personal collection.  Since they started collecting art some five decades ago they’ve amassed more than 2,000 pieces.  And it’s growing weekly.  They have a borrowing system where they lend art to galleries all over the world so they can share their collection with others.  What great people.


I wonder if they ever dreamed they’d amass such a collection?  And the collection is amazing.  I studied art at school and–don’t get me wrong–I really like it–but I’m not one of those people who can name famous artists—especially contemporary ones—like I’m naming rock bands or fashion houses. Mention Andy Warhol and, of course, I’ll know him.  Doesn’t everybody?  And don’t his paintings belong in some fandangled New York gallery rather than part of a private collection?  (I guess they do now!)



2. They funded (and built) the building.

To house art that they’ve collected that they’re sharing with us, they built a funky purpose-built building.  And the building is incredible.  The photos look incredible enough but up close—and when you’re inside it—it’s jaw-dropping.  The building itself is worth going to see.  Full credit to architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro and executive architect Gensler.  (I actually think this has now passed the Guggenheim—and architectural wonder—as my favourite museum).



3.   Check out the special installation on the ground floor.

Infinity Mirrored Room, a mirror-lined chamber housing a dazzling and seemingly endless LED light display. A 45-second visit is enough to blow your senses out of the water.  It’s so unique as you’re the only one in the room. This installation finishes in October 2017.  At the same time a broader exhibition featuring Yayoi Kusama’s work is planned.



4.  Next door is the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall.

It’s in amazing company.  For some philanthropic and art loving trivia, Eli Broad was the founding chairman and is a life trustee of The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (which is across the road), he was a visionary behind the development of Grand Avenue (where The Broad is based), and he spearheaded the fundraising campaign to build the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall). Talk about an art over-achiever!



Pop in next door for a free tour while you’re in the area.


5.  The food is amazing

The food options in Downtown LA are varied and offers great choices for any budget.


Where to eat

My number one choice is for sure the signature restaurant as part of The Broad, The Otium. Even now as I type (and I’ve eaten, I’m not hungry) I am salivating. The menu is so fresh and the food so innovative, light but filling and totally satisfying. It’s designed to share and you are going to want to try as much as you can on the menu.


But, best of all the ambience is warm, inviting and homely–with a twist of funk courtesy of the decor and building.  And the service echoes the warm feeling: the staff is nothing but friendly, knowledgeable and everyone we spoke to were happy campers.



A short walk from The Broad is the Grand Central Market, filled with hipsters and a solid selection of great food.



The food is good and varied. Try Horse Thief Barbecue or Eggslut and you can’t go wrong.



Google Map: The Broad

Where is the Broad?

The Broad is on 221 S Grand Avenue in Downtown LA.


General admission is free but hop online and reserve timed admission tickets before you go. It doesn’t cost anything and saves you waiting in a queue. That general admission queue also doesn’t guarantee you get in and it’s still painfully long so just hop online.


How to get there

If you don’t have a car The Metro stops nearby. For more information on routes and fares click here.


If you’re like most Los Angelinos and public transport isn’t your thing there’s always Uber.  Or if you have a car because driving is more your thing (God knows why with this LA traffic) there’s parking right next door.  Be sure to validate your parking for discounted fees.  For more info on parking click here.


Where to stay

There are some great hotels in Downtown LA but I recommend staying in the more traditional LA hotspots, for example West Hollywood, Beverly Hills or Santa Monica.  For more information on Beverly Hills Hotels see my series of articles.


People forget about art when they visit LA and Downtown often gets left off most people’s agendas.  But both are well worth including in your LA bucketlist.


For more pics of The Broad, visit my Facebook page and album.


This article was repurposed from an original I wrote on Cosmos Mariners Blog site a year ago. You can find the original story here. Thanks again Natalie for featuring me!  While you’re there check out Natalie’s other stories–she’s covered some amazing ground.
Britney Jean
Posts, Reviews, Travelog

Oh baby baby: Britney Spears in Vegas

The first thing you notice when you go to see Britney Spears’s live Vegas show is the young-but-getting-slightly-older fans queuing up for the best standing-room-only tickets hours before the show.  From all accounts this is a nightly occurrence.  I, on the other hand, was enjoying the fine dining and wine Vegas has to showcase–but that’s another story.

In fact Piece of Me still draws the same crowd it’s just that the girls have grown up a little and they’re in their 20s and early thirties (at a stretch). They’re still squishing into tight little dresses barely covering their bottoms and they’ve learnt how to walk in their massive heels.  (Don’t get me wrong, there are still young girls and their parents … and the likes of me).

Like all the other shows around Vegas Britney is telling a story.  And that’s exactly what it was–a show. I was expecting a concert. At a concert you expect the act to interact with the crowd.

With all the glitz, staging & lighting of a Vegas residency the only thing missing was Britney herself. I heard that the show is somewhat disappointing and she merely goes through the motions as she sings and dances her way through the night. The night we were there that statement wasn’t entirely true. This night she danced her way through popular numbers, strutting down the stage and running backstage for her many costume changes.

Piece of Me is well choreographed and executed, has all the bells and whistles in terms of lighting & effects, and Britney’s stamina is admirable.

But with all the glitz, staging and lighting of a Vegas residency the only thing missing was Britney herself. It’s hard to sing and dance–especially when you’re dancing with your all–but I thought I was going to see Britney sing. Or did I think I was going to see her perform?

Perform she did. Sing she did not. And that was disappointing. You didn’t just notice it for one or two moments, you noticed it over and over again. There were times when her moves were such that she could not have possibly been singing, and she didn’t make an effort to cover that up.

And she didn’t really interact with the audience. All we really got was a “Hello Vegas”. I wanted more. I wanted to hear from her, to have a chat, to get to know her a bit better–to get a piece of her.

But maybe Britney’s not ready to give us a real piece of her. I think Britney is trying to tell us something.

Britney was the epitome of success with hit after hit and teenage girls crying at the sight of her long before we even knew who Taylor Swift was. She was the original.

Piece of Me seems to be a tongue lashing, a message not by way of a song or an album but a Show. She’s reminding us what fame has done to her. We’re shown images of her career at the height of her popularity yet most of those successful songs were not on the playlist. Instead she chose songs like Piece of Me and Circus to tell her story. I wonder if anyone noticed?  Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t depressing, there were good songs too.  A highlight for me was Iggy Azalea up on the big screen duetting Pretty Girls with her.  Having said that it did seem that Iggy was more “present” than Britney.

She may have been down but she’s not out. She may prefer to ask her fans to come to her instead of touring around the world but she’s definitely changed. We changed her. Fame changed her. And for a while the world turned on her. Good for her as she has the last laugh because we’re lapping her up once again as she plays to packed shows, night after night, week after week. She deserves it, no one deserves to have a meltdown let alone one so public.

I’d recommend going to see Britney. I’m not sure if she’s going to sign on as there’s talk she may stop soon.  The Show is worth it–especially if you’re a fan. Just go to enjoy her perform, don’t expect her to sing.

Hit me Britney one more time.

xx It Started in LA xx

Posts, Reviews

ZBoard: A weight-sensing electric skateboard

I’m so excited I have my first guest post.  My son wanted a (what I would call) very 90210 present.  In talking to the founders of ZBoard I promised them he would review the product and post it on my Blog.  So it’s over to you, mate.


I first came across the ZBoard about a year ago, a friend showed it to me. I ridiculed it endlessly for its seemingly useless concept; obviously I was somewhere else back then because I revisited the ZBoard at the end of this year and I wanted it desperately.

I ended up getting the ZBoard San Francisco (SF) Special and its intuitive footpads, while a little tricky to master at first, they are definitely the right direction when it comes to making an electric skateboard move.

I was a bit skeptical and wondered why they didn’t choose a hand controller–it might let you control more precise throttle movement, but a hand controller is just that: a HAND controller. Another problem with a hand controller is that you have to be in the right stance and if you open the throttle too much, the board can come right out from under you. The ZBoard’s footpads eliminate the need to get worked up about how you stand because to move forward, you are already leaning forward so you don’t fall back.

The ZBoard handles well up hill and the brakes well downhill

The ZBoard handles well up hill and the brakes well downhill


The deck has a great, simple shape reflecting the ZBoard’s humble beginnings; on kick-starter where they only thought they would make 20. There are now a variety of custom decks available on the ZBoard website. As well as these custom decks that were made by fans and customers, there is a Back To The Future Part II style hover board deck, which is the one I’m using.

This deck is stained pink and has the famous hover board design on the grip tape. Getting this deck caused some issues while trying to send ZBoard the document they give you to sign to register your ZBoard. They asked for the serial number, which was supposed to be under the tail of the ZBoard. On my model, it seemed as though they had put the serial number on before they stained it and now it is not visible. There was a serial number printed on the box it came in, but it was supposed to have four numbers and a letter but mine was missing a letter. I emailed them the release anyway and included a message saying the problem but I have not gotten a reply yet so I assume that they were able to register it anyway.


Under the ZBoard


The ride is great, the huge wheels glide over anything, and the board itself is relaxing to stand on. If you are going to ride anywhere with hills, the board itself has enough power to deal with the hills but when you slow down too much, the drive wheel will lose grip, and you will probably have to carry your ZBoard up the hill, which I assure you is not fun–the ZBoard weighs about 30lbs!

I bought the urethane wheels with my ZBoard, and while the setup reduces torque, I found that they had more grip. Another thing about the urethane wheels is that they make the Zboard a heck of a lot faster! The ZBoard SF special’s normal top speed of 18 miles an hour is definitely not slow, but when you get to 20, you’ll definitely consider backing off the throttle. The Zboard is great going down hills, the regenerative braking is fantastically powerful and it’s good to know I’m not wasting power by braking: I’m saving power.

The ZBoard ownership website is fantastic because it includes step-by-step instructions to do everyday maintenance on your ZBoard like changing the wheels, swapping drive belts, and cleaning it. It is definitely important to maintain your ZBoard, because if your drive belt snaps while you’re going downhill, there will be no way of stopping you. (Ouch-Ed).

I thought I had bought the best Zboard you could possibly get, I had it all upgraded, and it was fantastic, but about a week and a half after I got it, ZBoard made a surprise announcement that they had created the ZBoard 2.

I have to admit that the ZBoard 2 looks amazing. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t announce it sooner though, because I would have never bought a ZBoard that was twice as heavy, with tiny footpads, and that is not waterproof if they had at least hyped the product.

This sudden release has distracted me from the brilliance of the ZBoard I already had. I emailed them to tell them that I was disappointed that they would burn me like this, and I got a reply directly from one of the co-founders of ZBoard, Ben Foreman.

He told me that once the ZBoard 2 reaches the backers of their indiegogo page, then it would go on their website and I would be able to buy it there, I asked whether they’d introduce an upgrade/trade in like they do with their current ZBoards and he said that they weren’t planning to, but he did give me an extra discount, which is the best he could have done, I guess. I was happy with the customer service, but really, I didn’t get anywhere. I can’t imagine them reading my order, for the premium model ZBoard, with all the upgrades, and a hover board deck, without cringing because I could have spent less money buying the ZBoard 2, which is better in almost every single way.

My Mum went all out to buy this, something I truly wanted, she emailed back and forth with Ben trying to make sure this was the best gift ever. She is completely baffled that a company would do this to their customers, and I am too. I have barely used my ZBoard, the answer I was looking for is, “Sure we’ll take your ZBoard back and we’ll put $800 towards a ZBoard 2 of your choice, then you can just pay the difference.”

I’m sure that’s unrealistic, but I thought it was unrealistic that they would release the ZBoard 2 on such a short notice, but they did it anyway.  I guess that’s the downside of a start-up a lack of marketing finesse.

In conclusion, the ZBoard is fantastic; I love the way it glides over everything, and goes around my hilly neighbourhood with ease. Unfortunately, my particular ZBoard model is now pretty much obsolete because you can now buy a better ZBoard for the same price on its indiegogo page. If you’ve already bought one in the past three weeks, then all Zboard will tell you to do is suck it up and buy more.


So proud.  Love his review and his frankness about the product.  He truly loves it.  A bit of a marketing lesson though ZBoard.  We’re very supportive of you here but look after your customers: even the most revered products make a wrong move and they’ll revolt against you.  We’d hate that to happen to you: an innovative start-up.  (In case you’re interested here’s a story on Thermomix in Australia who made the same mistake–just one of thousands of Blogs and news stories).

xx It Started in LA xx

Posts, Reviews, Visiting LA

B Candy Newport Beach

Ice-cream anyone? On a recent roadtrip back to LA from San Diego (via the Orange County beach suburbs) we got that ice-cream craving you get when it’s hot and you see water.  (OK, you can get an ice-cream craving any time of the day and night).

We found the most enticing “candy” shop with lots of parking.  Bullseye!

You know the saying “like a kid in a candy shop?”   Well that candy shop was B Candy.  A feast for the eyes and the cravings it’s the perfect destination for all things lollies.  And candy.  And chocolate.  And–of course–ice cream.

But we were here for the ice-cream.  I had that “Only in America” moment when I saw the chocolate-covered potato chips and caramel ice cream:  Get out of town.  Gross.

Chocolate covered potato chips and caramel ice cream. Heaven.

Chocolate covered potato chips and caramel ice cream. Heaven.


I love that in America you get to sample first.  Dare you.  You’re on.

Oh. My. God.  The result is the saltiness from the chips, the crunch and the oozing caramel and hit of chocolate.  Nothing short of a taste sensation.  No friends, the reason there’s no photo of me devouring this ice-cream sensation is that there simply wasn’t an opportunity.  I still dream of that to this day and can’t wait to go back and have more.  Next time I’ll bring a tub back.  Can you do that?

I had a lovely chat with the owner, Brandy and all-in-all this is such a warm, lovely environment.  So much so that I decided to share it with you.

Pop in and pay them a visit and tell them I sent you.  But save me some of the ice-cream.

xx It Started in LA xx

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Posts, Reviews, Travelog, Visiting LA

Perfect homesickness cure: visit the Australian Outback

I’ve spent a bit of time talking about our recent bouts of homesickness.  Thankfully I can report that we’re all cured for a while and we’re moving onwards and upwards.

Why? We went home!  We heard the ads on the radio, we heard the talk around town and we thought, “why not?”, we need a bit of Koalafornication at the San Diego Zoo.  (Although a bit of David Duchovny Californication might have done the trick too).

It’s such an easy drive from LA straight down the 405 to San Diego there’s no excuse not to go–regardless of whether you’re visiting LA or live in LA.  It should be about a two-hour drive but nearly died when the GPS told us it would be a lot more.  My precision timing had us to the zoo just after 10:00 which I figured would be early enough to get a park, get our tickets and avoid the long queues for the Pandas.  Instead it had us coming in at closer to 11:00.  Sigh. Why are we always late? (Actually I’m partly to blame because I insisted on being Superwoman and baking fresh Hot Cross Buns for Good Friday).

It turns out the GPS wanted us off the 405 to avoid traffic.  We went with our gut, stayed on the 405 and we were there just after 10:00.  Success.  (Note: we could’ve been lucky, if you’re stuck in traffic on the 405 it can add hours to your trip so it might pay you to detour).

The carpark was filling fast and there were queues at every ticket window.  Either this zoo is really popular or we’ve come at the wrong time.  Or both?  I’m pleased to report the queue moved quickly, just enough time to take a family selfie, look around and we were in.  Once we were inside we didn’t feel like the zoo was so super busy that there were people everywhere so it was nice.  All good.  Straight for the Pandas.


Enjoying the SkySafari very much thankyou!


It’s so good having older kids who can read a map, less for me to do. We opted against the bus (as it seems this is where most of the entrants wanted to go) and decided to do the SkySafari. Bit of a queue but it moved quickly and it would get us to the Polar Bears and Pandas so we could walk downhill in time to have lunch at the Sydney Grill.

San Diegans love their Pandas

The San Diegans go ga-ga over their very own Pandas, why not? What’s not to love?


I heard a story that the San Diegans love their Pandas.  The town goes into “Pandamonium” when one of the Pandas does something and when one gives birth it’s like the future King (or Queen) of England is born.  And why not?  Pandas look like they should be cuddly and fluffy and because we’re not going to go near them let us believe that.  They are so cute.  Besides it’s good to see a town get behind their very own.

(Tip: Even if there is a queue for the Pandas there are things to see on the “journey” so don’t be put off by it).

The highlight of our morning wasn’t the Pandas though–it was the Polar Bears.  How fun are they?  They are show-offs, stirrers and just big kids who love to have a good time.  Check this:


You've been mooned

Want a good shot of me? How about this?


After lunch we headed to the impressive Koala Exhibit.  Thoughts of Austen Tayshus’s Australiana came straight to mind: “How much can a Koala Bear?”  Loved the fact that the hosts on the buses had to spell out, “Did you know the Koala is not a Bear?” on their way past the exhibit and I wonder a) how they came to be known as a Koala Bear (or a Koala Be even–you know who you are Phillippa Jones!) and b) how Americans are still surprised by that fact.

But as good as it was the Australian Outback wasn’t the highlight of our afternoon.  No, the Tortoises were.  Yep.  The Tortoises.  All the way from the Galapagas.  The over 100 years old and still going strong.  It was feeding time and one of the tortoises (let’s call him Piggy) ate a whole head of lettuce then started playing tug-o-war with his mate’s dinner.  Not nice for the mate (not mate as in partner but mate as in friend) but fun to watch.  Love surprises like that.

Tortoises at dinner time

Share nicely “Piggy” (Piggy not in the middle, Piggy just managed to take that whole lettuce minus one leaf from his poor hungry mate!)


Top Billing: the star of the zoo is

But who gets top billing of the day?  This Magpie deserves top billing as the star attraction.  Say “hi” and he’ll say “hi” back.  No word of a lie– click on the links and watch these!


More Magpie

And as if that surprise wasn’t enough we were getting a drink and they were letting some birds go in an afternoon ritual where they get to stretch their wings and go for a fly.  Thanks for the special show, we really were special guests.


Along the way I heard a boy say to his Dad, “Can you find someone to carry me?”  Couldn’t agree more.  That’s what the buses and SkySafari is for though so we had to do one more trip on the SkySafari–this time back down the hill.

You’re either a regular zoo goer or you’re not.  I fall into “you’re not” category and loved every minute of it spending the day with the family at the San Diego Zoo.  It’ll be one of the days I’ll treasure in our Californian adventure.

Typically when you’re young, keen parents you take the little kids then you may or may not remember to bring them back when they’re older.  It’s great when they’re older and you go and appreciate different things.  Stop thinking about it and do it–you can’t possibly regret it.

xx It Started in LA xx

PS:  It Started in LA & family were guests of the San Diego Zoo.  Thanks so much for hosting us. We had such a fun time and would love to do it again.  It’s a good idea to buy tickets before you go and here’s a link I prepared especially for you.

PPS: I’ll leave you with this image of Mother Duck heading out with her little ducks.  Gorgeous.  Surprised, however, by the number of people who thought that meant they could go up to the little ducks and pat them.  Lucky the zoo had it all under control with one of the keepers keeping a closing eye on them to make sure that didn’t happen.  Good job (as the Americans like to say and that I’m trying to avoid using quite as much as I do).


Mother Duck went out one day, over the hill and far away

PPSS: More pics on my Twitter and Instagram pages, plus there’s a small album on my Facebook Blog page.

Posts, Reviews

Loving Trina Turk designs

That’s right, I’m loving Trina Turk.  And we’re not talking in a sexual way.

Founded in 1995 by Trina and her husband, photographer Jonathan Skow, as a women’s contemporary clothing line, Trina Turk has evolved into an iconic lifestyle brand, celebrating California style with eleven annual collections of chic women’s ready-to-wear and accessories, plus swimwear, recreation/activewear, a Mr Turk menswear line, and residential décor and textiles. Joining the lineup in 2014 will be innovative footwear, handbag and jewelry collections.

Her stuff is gorgeous and the prints that inspire her ranges are nothing short of stunning. Check out the gorgeous interior of her store (if you look carefully you can see me!).

Trina Turk

Trina Turk’s Palm Springs store (shop!)

Don’t you love these macrame chairs that are featured in this post?  Trina please, please, please can I have one???

I just want one so bad. I didn’t leave empty handed though, I love my my new vintage-inspired ice-bucket? It goes beautifully with my retro drinks trolley.

ice bucket on trolley

Don’t they look like they belong together??

Check out Tina Turk either virtually or find out if she has a shop near you. (Tip: she doesn’t have one in Australia but she has a few around California. The Palm Springs store is the best though!)

Psst … Tell her I sent you and hopefully enough of you do so she notices me & puts me on her VIP list. LOL.

xx It Started In LA xx

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