“Sitting Bull’s Last Waltz” – Catch it Where YouCan

The Hollywood Fringe is an annual festival of live theater that brings players from all over the world to small theaters throughout Hollywood. It’s mostly centered on theater row on Santa Monica Boulevard between La Brea and El Centro, but several other small theaters are also involved. It offers a chance to take in a live experience and to see something unique. After all these years in Los Angeles, and being an actress, for crying out loud – and I’d never been to the festival before last Sunday!

I heard about “Sitting Bull’s Last Waltz” through an actor in the play named Alan Tafoya. I ran into him at Callenders Grill during their groovy jazz evening on Fridays and we got to talking. Turns out he’s an Apache from near my neck of the woods in northern New Mexico. He told me about the play and I went on down for opening night to find that it’s part of the Fringe.

“I wish it to be remembered that I was the last man of my tribe to surrender my rifle”

– so said the defiant Chief Sitting Bull of the Hunkpapa Lakota. 

Sitting Bull, also a holy man of his people, had many visions, including the defeat of General Custer and his bunch of marauders at the battle of Little Big Horn. Later, a meadowlark spoke to him in a vision of his own death at the hands of his own people.

Sitting Bull had a really bad rep with the U.S. government. He was super worried for his people since they were often starving after having their food supply purposely eliminated or being kicked out of their homes or murdered outright. Custer may have lost back in 1890, but the descendants of the Europeans were coming out west by the hundreds of thousands and stealing land from the Lakota Sioux right and left. Someone came up with a nice word to call them – “settlers.”

Sitting Bull was a real thorn in their side because he could tell a whopper of a story with a song. The Sioux people love that. People were inspired by him to continue to resist. Then came the Ghost Dance. The Indians have always been big on ceremonies and this one turned into a movement. The Ghost Dance was a ceremony that promised that the Indian people would get their way of life back so it was pretty popular as you might imagine. The idea that the Indians could get their way of life back was also very threatening to the occupiers since that would interfere with their own plans for their destiny being made manifest.

The actors of “Sitting Bull’s Last Waltz” tell the story of the men and women from this piece of our country’s history with visible passion and remarkable talent. The story is narrated throughout by Little Sure Shot herself, an effective theatrical device, which makes for an interesting angle. What unfolds beautifully before us in the small theater is a story that is heartbreaking to be sure but it is also an inspiring example of resistance to oppression and of a love for a life that is whole and unbroken.

The tone of this resistance is mostly told through the art of song. Described as a “post-punk musical,” the score brilliantly and viscerally depicts the passion of the conflicts; and the power of the relationships between the various characters and the land itself.

This show is bound to go places. The writing is superb and the musical pieces are excellently written and performed. I’d love to see the soundtrack come out. I’ll keep City Watch readers informed of that eventuality. This is an important performance piece. Not only because it causes us to know who we are as a country but because its’ message of the struggle against wanton oppression boldly resonates today as we stand on the brink of the destruction of our planet.

In the words of Black Elk on the massacre at Wounded Knee, which took place not too long after Sitting Bull was murdered:

“I did not know then how much was ended….I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream.”

We need to learn from that dream.

 

Community Theater for the Community

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I don’t get out to the theater much; but, when I do, of course I hope it will be a treat. I’ll tell you what; you really couldn’t do better than to grab your last chance this weekend to take in the wistful-sweet “Sábado Mornings” at the Studio/Stage theater on Western Avenue in Hollywood. I heard about the play from a special invitation from director Melvin Ishmael Johnson and House Manager Earlean Anthony back in April when the show was in previews.

Melvin is a tireless creative powerhouse. He hosts the Quamran Report, which aired for over two hundred segments at Skid Row Studios in downtown Los Angeles. Skid Row is a community radio station that features stories affecting our diverse communities and especially in downtown. It encourages community participation in producing news, politics and culture. Their motto is “Where Anyone Can Do Radio.” Tune in now to check out a discussion on the state of community theater on the last segment of the Quamran Report at Skid Row. It features one of the actors from “Sábado Mornings.” Meanwhile, I’ll keep everyone posted on what’s happening at Skid Row as well as where the Quamran Report is headed next.

Melvin is also a playwright, a community activist and the founder of Veterans Community Theater Workshop. I’d been wanting to see Melvin’s work for a few years now. On Sunday, about an hour prior to curtain, I was working on my one woman show when I got a call from a writer/director friend reminding me about the performance. It was a lickity split decision. I said to myself, “Damn! The time is now!” Out the door I went.

The theater is a small, intimate affair – perfect for the poignant story of Eddie and Rosa played beautifully by Jonaton Wyne and Judith E. Ex LAPD cop Eddie is dealing with his demons when he meets Mexican-American immigrant Rosa, the shy but strong waitress who has some secrets of her own. I really don’t want to say too much about the show because it unfolds so beautifully and anyway I’m not a theater critic. Let’s just say, SEE IT!

There’s plenty of fun to be had both before and after the play with the friendly folks running the show. Prior to the taking our seats, we had a nice glass of red wine…

ORGANIC AND FROM FRANCE, I MIGHT ADD…

… a nice touch, not to mention the delicious tamales on offer at the end of the show.

DIRECT FROM MAMA’S HOT TAMALES!

Mama’s is a not for profit collective where you can sample tamales of various styles from several different countries. Until you know the difference between a Mexican tamale and a Salvadorean tamale, well, you really haven’t lived!

ONE TAMALE, TWO TAMALE…

There were one tamale and two tamale plates, with rice and beans. The one tamale plate was just six bucks and plenty for me – mighty tasty too, as was the stream of jokes from an actor named Isaac who was in attendance.

If you’re lucky, Isaac will be there again, passing out jokes in abundance. But you won’t need any luck to catch the memorable performances of Judith and Jonaton in “Sábado Mornings” and to chat with the creative duo Melvin Johnson and Earlean Anthony. Enjoy!

NEED TO KNOW:

Studio/Stage Theater

520 N. Western Ave.

between Clinton St. and Maplewood Ave.

For more information: 213-908-5032

Tickets are $24 General Admission; $15 for Seniors/Students/Military

Friday, May 13 – 8 pm

Saturday, May 14, 8 pm

Sunday , May 15, 5 pm

 

AT LONG LAST: A DOGGY POST – FROM CITY WATCH LA!

INDOOR POTTY INSURANCE FOR FIDO – ONLY $50 A MONTH

by Jennifer Caldwell

Frenchie from Doggy and the City

Let’s face it. Doggy peeps can get plenty stressed when it comes to the well being of our furry/hairy friends. One challenge every working person faces is making sure our friends can relieve themselves when nature calls without making a mess in our homes. The day I became less of an unemployed actor and more of a day job-ee, I found myself in quite a pickle. Although my little Mo was never going to pee on the floor, I hated to think of him in a painful position for any amount of time.

WHEN YA GOTTA GO, YA GOTTA GO!

Friends offered to help – from near and far; some paid, some unpaid; with some I bartered. Each one worked out for a while but, in the end, I couldn’t rely on that method to be sure that my little friend wouldn’t be hurting to do his business. Dog walkers and doggy day care can run into hundreds of dollars a month; and with dog walkers, you’re basically giving a stranger access to your home. What’s a privacy prone broke girl to do?

ENTER CENTER STAGE: DOGGY AND THE CITY!

This aptly named service is a lifesaver for several reasons:

  • $50 a month gets me a strip of self absorbent grass of approximately 5 sq. ft. delivered to my front door every other week. For bigger canines, $60 will get you a strip of about 10 sq. ft.
  • $100 a month for small / $120 for large gets you weekly delivery
  • I can change the strip in a jiffy, but a full service option is also available. That means, a service rep will change your strip for you.

This service changed my life! Little Mojito is very well trained and would never think of going in the house; so, it did take a while. At first, he refused to go inside – no way no how. But after patient training, he got the message that it was okay to go on his inside grass.

I’VE NEVER HAD AN ISSUE WITH ODOR!

When I was choosing my service, I did find another one that delivers hydroponic grass. I considered this option but in the end, I was sold on Doggy. The soil that comes with their strips is naturally absorbent. I followed the instructions on where to place the box that the strip sits in and I’ve never had any problems with bad smells. 

HAKUNA MATATA!

Since, I got this service, the quality of life for me and Mojito is vastly improved. He still prefers to go outside and I still take him; but, we both know that when Mom’s away, it’s okay to go in the box.

Well folks, that’s enough potty talk for today. If you’re inclined, give Doggy and the City a call. Dave or Matt will set you up in no time. Here’s what you need to know:

DOGGY AND THE CITY

Indoor dog potty and dog grass delivery service

818-282-3449

doggieandthecity.com

 

 

GET YOUR BACON BEFORE IT’S SPAM

Due to a major draught, the price of feed soared to the highest level on record this past August. Farmers can literally no longer afford to feed their livestock and sell it at a profit. While huge corporate distributors like Hormel and Tyson are still making a profit, many small farmers are not so lucky.

It’s not just a problem in the U.S. either. Russia, a major world producer of grain, has also been hit hard with draught. Canada leads the world in the exports of live piggies. That country’s two largest growers just went pork belly up.

In a rush to liquidate livestock in the U.S., 9.9 million hogs were hauled to the slaughter in early August – more than in any one month in history.   By the end of August, 31% more pork was produced that at the same time last year. September is also seeing record numbers. According to a whole slew of reports, this glut in “the other white meat,” is supposed to slash prices on pork products – for now.  Next year, prices are expected to skyrocket.

Bearing this in mind, folks are rushing out to stock up their freezers with bacon, ham and ye olde pork chops. if you want to join the herd, there are some good deals out there. There are also some prices that are not changing, and even going up already. My sister in Albuquerque noticed that a pound of bacon out there at local chain John Brooks went up precipitously. Not surprising maybe, since John Brooks cuts their own meat and buys locally out there.

Here in Los Angeles, Ralphs’ twelve ounce package of their Private Selection brand of Center Cut bacon is going for $3.99. Oscar Meyer’s Center Cut of the same size is $6.99. So is a package of Farmer Johns.

The pricing on Hormel is an interesting story. At Ralphs, Oscar Meyer and Farmer John were not on sale – a straight $6.99 – take it or leave it. Hormel, on the other hand, is $3.99, but it usually goes for $7.99. In fact, you can even get Hormel’s uncured bacon for the same price. Uncured usually costs more. Apparently Hormel is standing by its forecast of continued unprecedented profits in spite of the havoc in the wake of the draught. This quarter, the company enjoyed a 32% jump in operating profit due to the sale of Spam.

Smart and Final had the same pricing as Ralphs except that you can get two pounds of Farmer Johns or their First Street brand for $6.99.

Jons Market has Farmer Johns for $5.99; and, this week, they have a special (surprise!) on Farmland bacon of 2 for $6.

For my peeps around the U.S., the parent company for Ralphs is Kroger. In New Mexico it is Smiths. In other states it may be Dillons, Bakers, City Market, Fred Meyer, King Soopers and Frys to name a few of the many chains bought up by Kroger.

There you have it, folks. Make hay while the sun shines!  Later, we may all be eating Spam. 

A GOOD DEAL AT WHOLE FOODS?

My friend Natascha keeps insisting there are good deals at that premium natural and organic supermarket monopoly – Whole Foods. There may well be calls for my arrest if I say this, but I’m going to say it anyway – I’m not a big fan.

Call me crazy but I think it’s a bit much the way Libertarian CEO John Mackey and his team of marketeers attempt to make me feel like I’m saving the world by simply shopping there, while they’re really engaging in same old hostile acquisitions and union busting tactics as say, Wal-Mart, for example.

I find it irritating. I’ve even had self-described progressives try to make me feel guilty for shopping at Ralphs. It’s laughable really when you think of the black hat tactics Mackey engaged in to get his hands on Wild Oats, among many others. Even the Bush administration put up resistance to that merger!

But the biggest reason I seldom darken the door of that venerable retail chain is because I find their shelves to be lacking in deals. I used to get a few things here, but since the inception of the biggest economic downturn in my lifetime and possibly in history, forget it.  I’ve been far more likely to be found at the 99 (Per)Cent Store, where, in fact, they often offer great deals on organic items.

Still, Natascha knows a good deal when she sees one. The thing that finally got my attention?  She got a jar’s worth of oregano for 33 cents. That’s right, folks – 33 cents. When she mentioned this figure, I knew I would have to psyche myself up to brave the mobs of hipsters and the impossible parking lot and head on over to check out this incredible deal.

I have to admit, I was pretty impressed.

Whole Foods has a sizeable bulk section these days – noticeably larger than it was before the downturn. In this section, you can purchase all manner of dry goods. They’ve got every kind of nut, grain or bean you can think of. They’ve got dried fruits, seeds and various other snacks too. Some of it is really delectable stuff like maple coated pecans and almonds – yogurt covered papaya.

The best deal I saw on these items was on organic chickpeas, a.k.a. garbanzo beans, for $1.99 a pound.

The incredible deal is on herbs and spices for cooking. Standing in this section, I almost feel like I’m at Oleson’s Mercantile on Little House on the Prairie. The jars are all lined up so neat and pretty.

Here, I can get enough cayenne pepper to fill a typical 1.5 oz. jar for only $1.41. Can’t beat that as far as I know. I guess Whole Foods is conforming to these hard times after all – at least when it comes to spicing things up!

As a post script, please note that I’ve called around Los Angeles and found only the stores listed below as offering this stunning deal on herbs and spices in bulk. They’ve pulled the bulk spices in Torrance, A team member at the West Hollywood location is trying to get them. My advice? Call ahead. Seems like this is an experiment any store could ditch at any time. Drop a line and let me know if you find another store that offers it!

NEED TO KNOW:

Whole Foods Market
Herbs and Spices in the Bulk Foods Section

(Website with Store Locator) 


A WORLD OF IMAGINATION: FREE OF CHARGE

One of my favorite places in the whole city is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. A few days ago, I decided it was high time to spell out all the awesome deals on offer there. I’m not gonna lie, I was thinking I knew most everything there was to know about all that‘s available; but, I wanted to make sure. So, I met with Tim Digan, Director of Guest Services at LACMA.  Turns out I didn’t know the half of it.

I covered the Latin Sounds Music Series right here on Deals and Discounts. Many of you already know about the smokin’ jazz on Fridays and chamber music on Sundays — all with no dollars required.

They’ve also got a film series running year round in conjunction with Film Independent and the New York Times. Tickets for the general public range from free to $10 and free to $5 for LACMA members. The series includes new releases, classics, documentaries, and discussions with filmmakers. Sweet! You can purchase the entire film series as an add-on to membership for $50 for the whole year.

A Basic LACMA membership runs $90 for two, with an Indie Membership for singles at $50. Students pay only $25 annually. The museum offers several opportunities to take in the exhibits at no cost. Los Angeles residents can enter free from 3 to 5 pm on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and from 3 to 8 pm on Fridays. Anyone can get in free on the second Tuesday of the month and that deal goes all the live long day. Target Free Holiday Mondays, sponsored the program’s namesake, gets you in free on any Monday that is also a federal holiday.

Guest artists and lecturers visit the campus often, presenting talks on all manner of interesting subjects, often for free. Go to (link- LACMA Calendar) – http://www.lacma.org/visit/calendar where you can click on any day and scroll through all the good stuff happening on that day.

The campus itself is truly a gem. Aside from the exhibits inside the museum itself, there is so much more to see. The grounds are absolutely beautiful. There’s plenty of lawn and trees, as well as ongoing outdoor art. Folks can go and have a picnic or just sit and read. There are several eateries, ranging in  price and free wi-fi is campus-wide.

LACMA is a great place for kids. In fact, there are over twice as many kid members as adults. The Arts for NextGen Program caters to these young members like nobody’s business. The program offers free entrance for anyone 18 or under as well as one accompanying adult.

On any given day, the Boone Children’s Gallery is abuzz with kids trying their hand at creating art. Upon arrival, kids receive a basic instruction on art making and then dive in. They are welcome to use as many materials as they wish and it is all free. Budding artists can take their creations home or leave them for display in the gallery. The walls are lined with the colorful creations of those who’ve come to enjoy this experience.

LACMA hosts dozens of special events. Guests of all ages will no doubt enjoy the KCRW Good Food Pie Contest coming up this Saturday. Last year, some 2,000 people attended this free event where celebrity judges pick the best pies. You can sample the pies and judge for yourself and you can even enter the contest for a $15 entry fee. If you wear your apron, you’ll not only look cute, you’ll also get free general admission. Delicious!

As if all this wasn’t enough, Tim let me in on a couple of little-known happenings going on at the museum. Seems there’s a real nifty gathering that takes place at Dagny Corcoran’s Art Catalogues Bookstore. When scheduled, it takes place on a Sunday at 4 pm in the Ahmanson building on Level 1. This salon-like artists’ dialog and reception is on the cutting edge in the city, with guests such as  John Baldessari and Jarrett Gregory. For now, it is absolutely free.

Another little known gem is the opening receptions that take place in the Art Rental and Sales Gallery. Here, the work of a juried selection of emerging Southern California artists is featured on a Saturday evening from 5 to 7 pm. You can rub elbows with the artists themselves and ask them about the source of their inspiration. All pieces are available for purchase or rent. Apparently this event has been going on since the 1950’s and has remained a primary source of fundraising for the museum. Keep an eye on the Calendar at the website to catch these groovy events.

For my money, I say LACMA is really something special. In these hard times, it’s good to find a place where a person can enjoy the gift of human expression in all its many forms — without paying an arm and a leg.

NEED TO KNOW:

Los Angeles County Museum of Art  5905 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036 (map) http://goo.gl/maps/YgHvA

LACMA is open every day except Wednesdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas

Hours:  Monday 11 am–5 pm Tuesday 11 am–5 pm Wednesday Closed Thursday 11 am–5 pm Friday 11 am–8 pm Saturday 10 am–7 pm Sunday 10 am–7 pm

General Admission Tickets

A one-day pass to LACMA’s galleries and exhibitions, excluding specially ticketed shows

Members Free

Under 18 Free

Seniors & Students $10

Groups of 10+ $12

All other guests $15

Parking: LACMA’s lot is accessible from 6th Street and is not a deal at $10. Parking is free after 7 pm. There is plenty of metered street parking in the area as well as a lot of free street parking. Do observe “Permit Only” signage, as it is in abundance, but not everywhere.

(web) www.lacma.org

GEM OF THE CITY: THE LOS ANGELES PUBLIC LIBRARY

Photo credit: Taken from the Mexican Revolution Exhibit running now through February 2013 at the Los Angeles Central Library

Our public library is really such a darn good deal, that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So, I decided to make a series of videos called Gem of the City: The Los Angeles Public Library. Because of its beauty and its vast collection of activities and material, I wanted to feature the Central Library especially. I made up my mind I was going to find out everything there was to know about the library from an expert. So, I arranged an appointment with a librarian with the help of the LAPL’s public relations specialist, Brenda Breaux.

Boy, it was hotter than Hades yesterday when my cameraman and I ventured on downtown to our destination. My air conditioning is out in my car and I have to tell you, when I stepped across that threshold into the library, I was relieved! I’d say another perk for hanging out at the library during these sweltering days is the air conditioning!

When we got there, we were delighted to find that we actually had an appointment with the acting director of the Central Library, Ms. Giovanna Mannino. She knows just about everything there is to know about the library; and, she filled us in on all of it during our stay.

While we were there, we saw three exhibits the library has on display right now. The first was “Treasures of Los Angeles,” which is ongoing in the Annenberg Gallery and contains part of a larger Hollywood exhibit that is on display at the Frances Howard Goldwyn Hollywood Regional Branch. Next we took a peek at “A Nation Emerges: The Mexican Revolution Revealed,” and “As the City Grew: Historical Maps of Los Angeles.”

All in all, it was a fun and educational afternoon. You’ll find out all about it by watching the videos! It was also free. We did have to pay for the parking: $9 for a little over two hours. If you really want to spend some time at the Central Library, I would recommend taking the train. The Metro Blue Line and Metro Red Line both have stops near the library. You can walk just a few blocks. It’s fun, especially if you ever lived in New York City. You can pretend you are back there for a minute.

I hope readers enjoy this series on our public library and continue to support the library and all of the wonderful and vitally needed resources it provides in these hard times.

NEED TO KNOW:

Central Library  630 W. 5th Street, 90071 (map) http://goo.gl/maps/8RmnZ

Phone: 213-228-7000Hours: Mon. 10-5:30, Tue. 10-8, Wed. 10-5:30, Thu. 10-8, Fri. 10-5:30, Sat. 10-5:30, Sun. Closed

Validated Parking Rates

$1.00 for 1st hour (or portion thereof) $1.00
$4.00 for 2nd hour (or portion thereof) $5.00
$4.00 for 3rd hour (or portion thereof) $9.00
$4.15 including tax per 10 minutes thereafter $37.60 Maximum including tax
Cars entering after 3:00 p.m. (until Library Closing) $1.00 Flat rate
Saturday (10 a.m. – 6 p.m.) $1.00 Flat rate

BLACK DOG COFFEE: GOOD GRUB FOR A GOOD PRICE

Last Saturday night at Noche Cubana, I was a dancin’ fool. My YouTube lessons really paid off. I even started a Conga Line!  It took a few go-rounds; but, in the end, my dance partner and I succeeded in whipping everybody into a dance frenzy. We got ‘em up on the floor where most of them stayed for the remainder of the night.

After all that excitement, Natascha and I decided to meet up again the next morning to reminisce over some serious coffee and a good breakfast. With the salsa beats still ringing in my ears, I headed on down to meet her at Black Dog Coffee, where I knew we’d get just what we needed.

First on the agenda – the coffee. Back in 2002, the first thing then boyfriend and I noticed about this little gem on Wilshire Boulevard was the sign on their window: Home of the Caffe Cubano. This is their signature coffee. On our first visit, we ordered the largest ones we could get at $4 apiece. They were fantastic. All coffee drinks are delicious – made from whole bean fair trade Groundworks coffee

As then boyfriend and I continued to frequent the café, we naturally began to explore the menu. Over the years, as we evolved, Black Dog’s menu did as well. The results have always been tasty. One of the newest items is breakfast soup that’s served all day. It consists of their homemade black bean soup, topped with two poached eggs, cheese, diced tomato and onion and garnished with avocado and sour cream.  I like to dispense with the sour cream myself. Sour cream or no, the whole kit and caboodle comes in at $5.25.

There are a whole lot of great items on the menu here, and everything is fresh and wholesome. If I was pressed to choose my favorite, it would probably be what they call their signature sandwich, the roast turkey pesto. $6.50 is perhaps not the least expensive sandwich; but, for the sheer quality you’re getting with this baby, it is incredible.

First and most important, the meat is real turkey breast, not that weird lunchmeat-type processed material. The combo of the fresh pesto sauce and cranberries is outstanding; and, the bread? – It’s a quality seeded baguette that is really delicious. The size is cost effective too. For someone who’s watching calories, you can easily make two meals out of it.

For breakfast, I favor either the breakfast soup or their Mexican scrambled eggs, once again without sour cream, for $4.75.This dish is eggs or egg whites, tortilla strips, cheese, diced tomatoes, a little red onion, and their original salsa, with sour cream and avocado garnish. A meal for under $5 is always a plus.

The other item that’s really outstanding is the homemade soups that Black Dog dishes up every day. Every day is a different group of soups and they are all outstanding. Clam Chowder with Bacon, Barley Mushroom, Corn Cactus, Chicken Noodle – from the exotic to the familiar, from healthy to er, a bit less, they’ve got something for every palate. The soups are reasonably priced, coming in at $3.75/$4.50, depending on size.

Finally, you might guess from the name that Black Dog is pooch-friendly. You and your dog can sit outside at the sidewalk tables, no problemo. You can enjoy a leisurely meal prepared and served by the friendly staff while you read the paper or people-watch on Wilshire Boulevard. There’s always fresh water outside for your canine friend; and, inside, a big bowl of free doggie treats awaits. Nice to know your buddy can also get a little treat while you enjoy the tasty grub.

NEED TO KNOW:

Black Dog Coffee   5657 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036  (map) http://goo.gl/maps/gWREh

Phone: 323-933-1976

Hours: Mon-Fri 7a.m. – 6 p.m.    Sat-Sun 8 a.m. – 4 p.m

Metered parking and several 2 hour unmetered spots on nearby side streets such as Masselin.

THE IRONIC RESULT OF OVERPRODUCTION: NO JOB AND A $5 DRESS

These days, there are two reasons why it’s so difficult to buy clothes. First, when money is tight, a new dress or pair of pants ends up pretty far down on the priority list. Even though a person really could use a new outfit, other priorities take center stage and next thing you know, there’s none left for that look you want for your next audition, party, or event.

Second, you know how it is when you’ weigh a little more than you want to, so you don’t want to buy the bigger size than you’re used to because you know you’re gonna lose that extra; but, in the meantime, what do you do? Maybe you can’t even wear the stuff that’s already in your closet!

Well, all that describes the spot I was in when I discovered Karen’s Closet.

Everything in the store is $5.00, except for two things: accessories, which are $1.00, and shoes, which are $10.00. Got that! When I walked in, I wondered what the catch was.

I was greeted by the beautiful and friendly Shantal, and I fired all my questions at her. Why is everything so cheap? Are they irregulars? Shantal explained that the owners, who are plural, not female and not named Karen, are in the wholesale business downtown.

That’s how they can bring these great deals to their store at Pico and Mansfield. The inventory is overstock and could be anything from Arden B to Express to Lane Bryant to Charlotte Russe. You just never know what goodies are going to show up on the racks. A fresh batch of women’s apparel hits the store twice a week – Thursdays and Fridays.

Karen’s Closet gives no refunds and there are no exchanges. This naturally leads to the next question: Are there dressing rooms? Even though it’s only five bucks, I need for it to count. Shantal said, “No. There are no dressing rooms; but, you can try the clothes on.” Apparently, it was A-OK to find a spot in the store and go on ahead and try stuff on!  Whoa!

I looked around and saw that there were several ittle nooks and crannies…

There weren’t many people around…

I decided to go for it.

Lord knows, I’ve ended up changing in some crazy places, being in the entertainment biz, even though it’s supposed to be against union rules.

The thing for me was that I actually wanted to buy a dress, so this was going to be interesting. I tried the first one – so far so good. I was getting into my second option, when a couple came in. I backed up into the little alcove I was next to and struggled to get into some decent shape before they decided to head my way. The operation turned out to be a little dodgy, but I did manage to conceal the important bits without much attention.

The woman was busy singing passionately to the music that was wafting through the store and trying various articles over her own clothing to notice much. The mam was fixed on the racks of clothes as if on a mission to find something for his partner.

In light of all this, I would highly advise wearing clothes that you could try things on over when you shop here – maybe leggings and a camisole or something like that.

In the end, I came away with the perfect little day to night dress that could be made up or down for the unbelievable price of $5 – not irregular, nothing wrong with it – just a consolation prize for the scourge of overproduction.

Please note there are absolutely no refunds or exchanges. Plastic is accepted and there is no pesky minimum required to use it.

I have a feeling Karen’s Closet is going to be one of my top go-to places for fashion I can afford.

NEED TO KNOW:

Karen’s Closet   5001 W. Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, 90019  (map) http://goo.gl/maps/sdwRh

Phone: 323-930-1702

Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. every day