Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Escape this!

I'm handcuffed to the handle of a cabinet in a large office in a nondescript industrial building downtown. In fact, everyone at this party is hand-cuffed to some immovable object in the room. The lights are off, we're locked inside and the only light in the room is the glow from an overhead flat-screen monitor - displaying a clock that counts the hour down. We're being watched via cameras positioned in the upper corners of the room.

What happens next can only be described as an hour of frantic dialogue, small victories, deciphering coded messages, ripping apart and searching through every square inch of that room, assembling basic machines, trying to remember middle school lessons - how does latitude/longitude work again? What story references four men by the sea? It is an exhilarating, cerebral exercise to figure out how to escape. And we've paid for this privilege.

This was my inaugural session in an escape room. And I've become hooked. For the uninitiated, an escape room is 1-hour experience/game where you're locked in a room and you have 60 minutes to figure out how to escape - through a series of clues. This description - however - belies the intensity of the experience. It is not for the intellectually-timid or passive person. Just as with "Dining in the dark", social conventions fly quickly out the window - as we were immediately thrust into "survival mode." I could go on and on about what happened during the hour in that room, but I'll refrain so as not to spoil discovering it for yourself..

We were sprung from that office an hour later - we weren't able to figure out our escape on our own. Even though we didn't "win", I left that nondescript industrial building in downtown LA in an euphoric state. Really. I felt like my brain had been shaken around - in a good way. The game stretched my mind and left me stunned, exhilarated and admiring the folks that put these escape rooms together. Highly recommend this fun. Reservations required.

Los Angeles

Orange County

Thursday, October 1, 2015

New MOCA in LA

The Broad Art Museum has finally opened in LA. FINALLY! It's the imposing, white, honey-combed-exterior building at the corner of 2nd and Grand in downtown LA - one block south of Disney Hall. Eli Broad (rhymes with "mode") had built the museum to house his contemporary art collection of a couple thousand pieces ... and he is keeping museum admission free to the public. Bless his heart.

He has pieces from some of the most recognizable names in the contemporary movement - JM Basquiat, Keith Haring, Jasper Johns, Koons, Lichtenstein, Murakami, Rauschenberg and Warhol. A visit here would be an easy, concentrated survey to introduce the next generation to modern art.

As downtown LA continues to struggle through its' urban revitalization - along with the accompanying problems that flourish with gentrification - The Broad is a bright light. A magnet to pull visitors from the burbs and travellers from around the globe to breath diversity into downtown.

Broad has been criticized for creating a "vanity Museum." I cry foul. Broad built the building, curated the collection and is sharing it with the public - for FREE. While LA does have a handful of world-class museums - The City of Angeles is no Florence. Thank you - Eli - for your generosity and vision.

You can order your free tickets to the Broad Museum online here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Becoming 007

Extreme adventure travel has become a increasingly popular niche, as people mired in routine and technology crave something to shake up their lives. 

The Special Ops Agency  - an outfit based in the UK - provides 1-2 day adventures designed to satisfy one's need for adventure while offering exercises and training in rescue, under-cover ops, demolition and ambush survival.

The Agency's staff consists primarily of retired British Army vets and they claim to have "unprecedented access to Special Forces and Secret Services training to create the ultimate adventure missions." The adventure doesn't come cheap but their short-time packages are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to channel your inner James Bond. Sign me up.