The TomKat Theatre is an important historical landmark for people interested in some of the sleazier aspects of Los Angeles history. Opened in the 1930s as the Monica Theater, this building eventually started showing adult movies as the "Pussycat." That theater failed, and the new owners of the building changed the name to TomKat and began showing gay male porn. The exterior of the theater retains its art deco stylings and neon trim that make it look really cool, especially at night.
The inside, though, does not look cool at all. Actually, the interior is not clearly visible, and thank the gods for that. The TomKat is one of very few 24-hour porn theaters still in business, and the level of accreted filth is amazing to behold. Sit in a chair only at your own risk, and try not to worry too much about your feet sticking to the floor. Also, this is still a known gay cruising spot, so don't be surprised at what other patrons are doing around you (or inviting you to do!).
If you're as fascinated by the porn industry as I am, a trip to the TomKat is necessary (if only to see Linda Lovelace's and John Holmes's handprints in the cement). However, a second trip might well be more than the nose can handle.
PROS: Landmark, required trip for a porn history buff
CONS: totally unclean, unsafe sex all over
Well, this isn't exactly a newsstand. Like the name implies, Circus of Books is a bookstore, although its supply of books pales in comparison to its magazine selection. Located on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood (the wealthier gay ghetto in L.A.), Circus of Books has a nearly random selection of literature, gay pulp novel coffee-table books of fetish photography, and the like. Although not all of the books are explicitly gay, they all do reflect a gay male sensibility.
The real reason for this bookstore's existence, though, is the magazine selection, which follows the eclectic range of the bookshelves. Here is where you can buy your Atlantic Monthly, your old issues of Drummer and Honcho, your New York Times Book Review, and your fetish porn all in one stop.
The store is (mostly) clean and well-lit, but it is an "adult" bookstore, so don't take your minor children or prudish relations.
Since I'm a student living in an expensive city on a tiny stipend, I make use of a lot of military surplus stores for clothing, supplies, etc. I like the Supply Sergeant because it is very well organized (no "miscellaneous" bins) and they have a lot of new merchandise available. Because they seem to focus on new items, though, they don't seem to have as much actual military surplus as some other places. That means, of course, that you won't wind up with a pair of shredded pants from the Norwegian navy ca. 1941, but it also means fewer ultra-cheap or unusual items (don't YOU want a Soviet periscope case? What about that 50-cent German knit sweater that looks like it survived a blitzkrieg?).
Supply Sergeant has a good selection of workwear by Carhartt and Dickies, though, with relatively few hipsters pawing through them.
Anyone who lives in Los Angeles is familiar with endlessly scanning the horizon for cheaper gas prices. Don't bother here.
However, if you need repair or service, this is a good place to go. The mechanics are competent and the repairs are satisfactory. I'm sure I could find better labor rates if I tried really hard, but they are quite a bit less expensive than other places. Also, they got my 10-year-old Oldsmobile to pass the smog check by quickly figuring out the problem and replacing a hose. Sure beats having to go through the "gross polluter" rigamarole.
I don't know that I'd trust the Nono's 76 mechanics with my firstborn, but finding an auto service place that is reasonably honest AND whose repairs hold up has been a challenge.
PROS: Competent repairs
CONS: Expensive gas.
No, seriously...I have yet to look for something that they don't have. Whether it's obscure 1950s science fiction films or documentaries that I need to present in my classes, if it's come out on VHS or DVD, it's probably lurking somewhere in here. The staff are quite knowledgable and take their jobs really seriously, which is a nice change from the Blockbuster drones. Los Angeles may not have a wealth of bookstores or coffeeshops, but its wealth of good video rental places makes you notice less.
Buy a membership here. It's well worth it.
I don't really know why, but I've found it surprisingly difficult to find a decent reptile supply store in Los Angeles. Most pet stores either look at you with disgust when you mention needing food for your snake, or they have no idea what you're talking about, or they have reptiles but keep them in appalling conditions, or they charge three prices for inferior products.
Allan's doesn't do any of these things. The animals are kept in decent, if not fantastic setups. The staff is reasonably knowledgeable and usually helpful. Supplies are decently priced, and (best of all) they have food and supplies for larger as well as smaller species. Yeah, I wish the place were a little cleaner, and I wish the manager were somewhat more pleasant, but I'm glad to have Allan's around when my mail-order supplies don't come in on time.
...though I'm not entirely sure. This was the dentist that my insurance pointed me toward. I don't think I'll be going back, mostly because the cleaning and X-ray took exactly twenty minutes. While I normally don't want to spend any more time in the dentist's chair than I have to, everything was incredibly rushed. They were friendly, and cheap, though, and I haven't had any catastrophic trouble with my teeth since.
I have heard that some people have good experiences with this guy, but I certainly was not one of them. He was a pretty terrible listener, and he somehow got it into his head that I was lying to him most of the time. Surprisingly enough, even though he has a sliding scale, he seems to be incredibly mercenary. If you're seeing him for gender issues, beware.
Yes, this really is great pizza. Rather than wait in line forever, though, just buy one of their pizzas uncooked and finish the job at home. Before I came to this place, I was afraid that I had left decent pizza behind when I went to California. I'm a dedicated carnivore, and I still loved the "Vegetarian" pizza with cheese and spinach.
Lines are long, but that can be easily solved by eating the pizza at home.
This brew pub combines just about everything I need in a beer place: good pizza with various unusual combinations (I personally prefer the Odysseus), good beer, both their own and others', and well-prepared appetizers (my choice? the warmed olives). There is both indoor and outdoor seating, although either can be difficult to get when the place gets crowded. They also occasionally have live music which ranges from decent to awful.