The Los Angeles Times

If Whales Could Shout, They Would

–Published on the front page of The Los Angeles Times on July 11, 2010–


In a noisy room, humans will yell to be heard, eventually giving up when communication becomes impossible. Now researchers have found that North Atlantric right whales, too, get louder in response to the noise level of their environment.

Left unanswered is what might happen when an increasingly noisy ocean becomes too loud for easy communication.

Monitoring 14 right whales — seven males and seven females — in the Bay of Fundy, Canada, researchers from Pennsylvania State University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and Duke University found that the animals’ call amplitude rose proportionately as background noise increased. Their study was published in the July issue of Biology Letters.

“Whales are compensating for increased ocean noise by going up in volume when they call to one another, which is basically the same thing that humans do when they’re trying to talk in really noisy bars,” said Joseph Gaydos, chief scientist for the SeaDoc Society at UC Davis, who was not involved in the study.

Previous studies had shown that numerous species of animals, including some whales, alter their call amplitudes in response to rising noise levels. This is the first study to show that right whales do this as well, expanding the number of species potentially affected by man-made changes in their auditory environment.

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Freak City wraps together shopping, music, the arts and more shopping

–Published in The Los Angeles Times style section on September 3, 2010–



Starting Friday, the notoriously hush-hush Freak City, an after-hours music venue, artists’ space and clothes gallery on Sunset Boulevard, will open its doors for a short-term vintage and modern clothing pop-up store.

“This is a big deal,” said co-owner Justin Romero. “Normally our store is open by appointment only or during our nighttime parties. Now it will be open to everyone.”

Freak City, which opened in October 2009, has gained notoriety in the underground music and art scene for its spontaneous, late-night parties, which have featured such artists as MIA, Peaches and the Cool Kids. The no-frills two-story venue consists of a number of empty rooms for dancing, a lounge, a stage, a bar, a break-dancing room, a record studio and a clothing gallery. Crumpled up newspaper, confetti and graffiti cover the floors and walls, and odd props such as traffic signs, a bus bench, a basketball hoop, metal piping and sewage grills give Freak City an urban street-style vibe.

The pop-up clothing store, which will be open every day from 2 to 10 p.m. for the next two weeks, will feature clothing from vintage collectors and local designers, as well as Freak City’s own vintage collection and its hip-hop apparel line, LA Wrap. The selection is unisex with a heavy influence of ’80s and ’90s street-inspired clothing, such as floral dresses, harem pants, retro Adidas sweatshirts, jelly shoes, snap back hats, and patterned leggings.

“Think of it like an indoor flea market on the streets of New York,” Romero said.

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Level 10 Lux opens on Melrose, offers affordable prices in a glamorous setting

–Published in The Los Angeles Times style section on November 15, 2010–



Everyone shops on Melrose Avenue for different reasons. Whether you’re searching for fluorescent, high-topped sneakers at Sportie LA or the perfect vintage floral dress to complete your bohemian wardrobe, Melrose has it all.

One of the newest additions to the block is the fashion-savvy, body-flaunting women’s clothing store Level 10 Lux. Nestled between American Vintage and Adam Saaks, the neon-green store opened its doors earlier this month but is hosting its official opening party Monday from 7 to 10 p.m.

“Level 10 Lux is unique,” said owner Vanessa Lee. Located in one of the most popular shopping districts in Los Angeles, it offers fashionable, trendy clothing at affordable prices.  But don’t mistake it for a smaller-scale H&M or Forever 21. Level 10 Lux is precisely for the girl who won’t shop at these stores and wear mass-produced styles, but who also can’t afford to regularly shop at Barney’s Co-Op or Fred Segal.

“We are the bridge between the two,” said Lee. “This is where the young girl who can’t spend much but still loves glamour comes to shop.”

The setting is glamorous too, with brightly colored clothing and accessories that pop against the spotless, white walls and ornate black chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.

Fashionistas can come here for one-stop shopping — stocking up on lacy miniskirts, mesh cut-out dresses, striped crop tops and patterned leggings, as well as leather handbags, studded pumps, velvet ankle boots, hats and jewelry.  Clothing ranges from $30 to $150 and accessories from $10 to $100.

The store is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.
Level 10 Lux, 7565 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 782-0065.


Le Petit Petit adds Malibu Native to the brand…

–Published in The Los Angeles Times on February 4, 2011–



Chloe did it with See By Chloe and Marc Jacobs did it with Marc. Now L.A.-based Le Petit Petit, which we  introduced here awhile back, is doing it as well.

The brand’s Malibu Native — a less expensive, more casual sister line — will hit PacSun stores in February, starting with a promotion party Saturday at The Grove.

“We are very excited to grow with PacSun because of their strong ties to core surf brands,” co-designer Logan Weinsieder said. “We feel like we can bring something new to the table in terms of fashion design and lifestyle branding.”

Drawing from the surf heritage of the West Coast, Malibu Native gets its inspiration from nature-loving fashionistas such as models Erin Wasson and Chase Cohl, and surfer Chandler Parr.  Malibu Native is more laid back than Le Petit Petit’s main line, a bit more retro and a lot less boho. But despite these differences, the label’s characteristic Parisian streak is still evident, such as when tiny black Eiffel Towers pop up on mint-colored bikinis.

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