flat s: a (not so) hardboiled trip to los angeles

We just received word that Flat S has been spotted in Los Angeles. Sarvi Chan (one of our great discussion forum moderators!) and family showed Flat S a wonderful time in the City of Angels.

The Flat S Tour Logo

So without further ado, here’s Sarvi’s account of how they spent their time together.

We were very excited to have Flat S come to visit. We picked her up at Union Station in the heart of Downtown LA.

Flat S at Union Station

Although in LA you will definitely spend a lot of time traveling in a car, and a lot of time in traffic, LA is really not so much a single, cohesive city as it is a sprawl of loosely knitted neighborhoods. Within the neighborhoods, you can navigate pretty easily by bus, bike, twin-ankle special, or even a nifty new subway! Union Station is beautiful, with gorgeous tile work, old wooden seats, and peaceful plazas with fountains where a motley mix of Angelenos and visitors can be found.

Just across the road is Olvera Street, a short but jam-packed block that’s a typically Angeleno mix of real (people, pastries) and extremely fake (neon knick knacks of every description).

Flat S at Olvera

Since LA is, after all, Tinsel Town, naturally we saw a shoot for a commercial taking place. The poor AD and line producer were bemoaning the jackhammers of CalTrans, spoiling their audio, but in a city that relies so heavily on roads, the great work must continue. Don’t you wish the old Red Car trolleys were still around?

Tucked into the tiny block is the very real Avila Adobe. Flat S tagged along with a group of school kids on a field trip and learned that adobe was a popular building material because it kept you warm in the foggy mornings and cool in the baking midday sun.

Flat S and Adobe

I hope the Avila family were clued in to the concept of layering! We enjoyed spotting the handouts on the histories of many different groups and the parts they played in the formation of this polyglot city.

For a measly 50 cents we hopped onto the Dash, a small local bus that took us to Little Tokyo, a vibrant and active community. The smell of lit charcoal at all the little yakitori joints was enticing but we made do with a quick stop at a supermarket catering to expats and fans of Japanese culture.

Little Tokyo

Flat S found the playful packaging in the snack aisle, where the line between candies and toys is blurred, too tempting to resist, and she picked up a few treats to share.

Across from one of the most playful art spaces in LA, the Geffen Contemporary, Flat S spotted this beautiful doorway to the Hompa Hongwangji Buddhist temple and paused to admire the symmetry.

Little Tokyo 2

The Geffen is but one of quite a number of museums housing art that exemplifies LA’s irreverent, dreamy aesthetic.

Too bad, the Geffen was not yet open! With a hankering for more art, we decided to visit the main space of the Museum of Contemporary Art, across the street from Frank Gehry’s funky Disney Concert Hall.

Disney Concert Hall 1

As if having the Music Center, the Concert Hall (with the edgy REDCAT performance space tucked behind it), and MOCA all on the same block wasn’t enough, philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad are building a HUGE new space right next door. Zowie!

Disney 2

Flat S will have to come back for another visit when that beast is finished! She popped into the gift shop for a peek at all the bright and pretty things.

A quick ride on the pint-sized Angel’s Flight railway and we found ourselves at the Bradbury Building. It looks like nothing much from the outside, but step inside and light simply pours down from the massive central skylights across the ornate scrollwork and stone steps.


A statue of Charlie Chaplin resting on a bench in a foyer off a side entrance reminded us that there would be a showing of “The Kid” at family movie day the next morning….

But for now, we needed grub! Just across the street is the wonderful Grand Central market, an unglamorous but miraculous place where you can buy cheap, great veggies, every imaginable spice, and the absolute best gorditas (deep-fried cornmeal patties split open and stuffed with beans, lettuce, salsa, lime, sour cream, and your choice of meats — we got the milanesa, a seasoned steak pounded paper-thin and breaded) with big, luscious glasses of horchata and tamarindo (rice milk and tamarind drinks) to wash them down.

Grand Central

It wouldn’t be LA without the amazing Mexican food!

Our tummies full, we headed home and practiced our handwriting, watched a few cartoons, then curled up under a cozy quilt for story time and a flip through some pop up books before heading to bed. It had been a big day.


To our surprise, Flat S was up early, maybe still on East Coast time? And she made herself at home in the kitchen, whipping up delicious waffles.

Good Morning

She took her tea with one lump, not two. Properly fortified, we headed to opposite end of the city — the beach!

Our first stop was the Santa Monica Pier.

Santa Monica Pier

You really can’t swing a cat in this town without hitting a film crew. The carousel was closed for filming, boo! But we headed out onto the pier and took a spin on the ferris wheel, admiring the view of the shoreline, curving up into Malibu in the middle distance.

We turned around from this spot, having had plenty of kicks at the end of Route 66, and headed into midtown, for the Hammer Museum.

Santa Monica Pier 2

Funnily enough, there was an art exhibit about clothing that we spotted while waiting for the movie to start. We thought maybe Flat S looked a little homesick.

Hammer Museum

To our surprise, two dancers approached the art piece and started climbing up into it and wriggling into the clothes. It looked like fun, but our best guess was that participation from the general public might be unwelcome, so we collected some programs and headed into the theater.

We made it through about forty minutes of Chaplin’s ‘The Kid’ — not bad for a couple of three-year-olds! Then we headed into the gift shop, that wonderful refuge for parents of antsy children.

Hammer Museum 2

When we recovered from the sticker shock on the Bruno Munari books we were in the mood for something simple and satisfying. A hearty bowl of roast pork ramen stood us in good stead.

And goodbye

We were sorry we couldn’t show Flat S all the things we wanted her to see in our big city, but it was time to say goodbye. That’s a wrap, Flat S!

We can’t wait to find out where S is headed and what she’ll do next! Thanks for hosting her, Sarvi.




  1. karen

    Such a fun trip!

  2. Sarah

    Such fun!

  3. Wow Flat S,may I come and carry your bags?

  4. Loved this! Flat S looks as though she settled in very happily.

  5. Sounds like Flat S had a spectacular time in LA!

  6. mel

    I won’t fit in an envelope (and I don’t know how to make waffles) but I’d love to come visit!

  7. Oooo! Looks like Sarvi and co showed Flat S a stellar time! I have never had the desire to visit LA, but you may have just changed my mind… 🙂

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