Category Archives: Culture

Businesses Coming Back!

Thankfully businesses and companies are being allowed to re-open.  A week and a half ago, the safety protocols that had long been in play due to COVID-19, were “retired” by Cal/OSHA, following CDC and California Department of Health most recent guidelines.

In related news, some other companies are showing signs of returning to life by creating a presence int eh region.  Apple® will be opening up a new retail store in downtown LA at the historic Tower Theatre. The company also launched an international initiative providing hands-on experience and mentorship to youngsters  with the opening of their new store.  According to Senior VP of Retail + People at Apple, Deirdre O’Brien:

“At every corner, Los Angeles bursts with creativity across the arts, music, and entertainment, and we are thrilled to build on our relationship with this special city. Apple Tower Theatre honors the rich history and legacy of this entertainment capital.”

Let’s hope this is the beginning of LA springing back to life, especially in the entertainment industry which has been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

How Pop Stars Make Rebranding Work

Branding is an integral part of any entity’s ID. Every industry is crowded with personalities and products competing for attention and customers. That is why a noticeable and recognizable campaign is so important.

Expert marketer Evan Metropoulos has worked with some of the biggest brands and pop stars to rethink and revitalize their image. His vision and strategies drastically heighten brand awareness and create new points of contact for fans and customers.

Evan Metropoulos and Sylvester Stallone
Evan Metropoulos, left, with actor Sylvester Stallone

According to Metropoulos, branding campaigns need to incorporate all forms of media and span numerous platforms to be effective. Whether in the movie, music, or merchandise world, from New York to L.A., the United States or Europe, branding must be bold and striking and reflect the values and persona of its representative icon.

Evan Metropoulos and Michael Bay
Evan Metropoulos with movie director and producer Michael Bay

When considering a rebrand for a superstar, Metropoulos says it is most important to work slowly and methodically, convey authenticity, and exercise humility. “It is absolutely possible to rework a personal brand,” he says, “but it needs to be done with intention and thought.”

Coronavirus and the Flicks

Every single industry has been impacted by the novel coronavirus, some more than others.  In Los Angeles and Hollywood, the media industry is being severely impacted and here we take a brief look at what is going on there.

A lot of TV and film recordings have been delayed indefinitely.  One example of this is the James Bond movie – No Time to Die – which has been put on hold until 2021.  This means that there will big no big movie releases in America until Christmas.

As such, a plea to Congress was made by the Motion Picture Association to receive government financial aid for cinemas, claiming that without such assistance they were likely to face annihilation.  A letter was written to lawmakers which stated that:

“If that status quo remains, 69 per cent of small and midsized movie theatre companies will be forced to file for bankruptcy or to close permanently.”

Is it all doom and gloom? Not necessarily. In Los Angeles Netflix Inc. has just signed a new lease for a space on W. Empire Avenue at the Burbank Empire Center.  The 171,000 square foot property is LA’s largest new office lease. Owned by New York Life Insurance Company, Netflix will initially just utilize 150,000 square feet.  At the beginning of the pandemic, Netflix Inc. acquired the Egyptian Theatre located at Hollywood Boulevard.  The property – purchased from the American Cinematheque – changed hands in May 2020.  In addition, Titmouse Inc., leased

Glendale Community, LA: Giving Back

Veterans should always be respected and appreciated.  Thankfully COVID-19 has not disturbed at least some of the endeavors that are carried out for this group.

At the end of June, a donation was made to the Center for Veteran scholarships at the Glendale Community College Veteran Services Center.  This was presented by Dr. Teresa Leyba Ruiz, President of Glendale Community College, Robert Heidt, President of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce. Many other staff members of the Glendale Community College were present when the $40,000 check was handed over.

Some of the monies came from an event that took place earlier this year – the twice yearly Mayor’s Big Dog Runs.  This is organized in conjunction with the Glendale Chamber of Commerce Military & Veterans Affairs Committee. At the time – back in February and pre-COVID-19 – over 1,5000 motorcycle enthusiasts attended to show their support to US military.

Mayor Weiers explained:

“When I started this event several years ago, I could have never imagined how big this event would get this year. This event allows me to showcase the West Valley and highlight the amazing venues we have but most importantly give a scholarship donation to GCC and help those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice to serve our country.”

Other event supporters/sponsors include: Arizona Organix, Dutch Bros., Freddy’s, Glendale Chamber of Commerce: Military & Veterans Affairs Committee, Glendale Community College Veteran Services Center, Luke Air Force Base 56th Fighter Wing, Phoenix Raceway, Sanderson Ford, Shane’s Rib Shack, State Farm Stadium, Swire Coca-Cola Glendale and Westgate Entertainment District.

Networking…in the Time of COVID-19

Even though we are living in social distancing times, we must still somehow “live” and that means work, create, do business and network.  But we have to do it safely. Here are some local entities that are doing just that.

One example is the upcoming Q&A discussion put out by JAPAN HOUSE LA.  On July 17, the a discussion will take place on line entitled “How Japanese-Style Business Culture Applies to Today’s New ‘Business Normal.’” Starting at 10am, the discussion will be moderated by Mark Frauenfelder, the Director of the Institute for the Future Research.  Insights will be offered on Japanese culture within the business communications industry and what we need to understand about Japanese culture and etiquette practices to succeed.

According to Yuko Kaifu, President of JAPAN HOUSE LA:

“The pandemic has changed the way people conduct business. Even as cities open up, there is a new ‘business normal’ whether you’re working from home or back in the office. While most professional seminars focus on general techniques and best practices, this discussion aims to create awareness for Japanese culture through proven business practices, allowing attendees to see how these might benefit their business.”  

Another plan of sorts – necessary during these times – is the COVID-19 Reimbursement Program.  In order to offer compensation to businesses that are offering coronavirus testing to their employees, any company that has less than 200 workers will be eligible for grants offered by enacting this testing.  $300,000 has been put in the pot for the program and the monies will be distributed on a first-come first-serve basis with up to one grant for each company up to $15,000.

Bringing Nutrition to Local Schools

Culinary Institute of America graduate chef Scott Lopez has prepared a menu for over 1,000 at West Hills, Chaminade High School students.  Lopez – who has cooked for some of LA’s finest establishments – began his career at 13 in his family’s restaurant. Since then he has worked with the likes of Eric Greenspan, Craig Petrella and others until setting up his own business, The Caterer Inc.

The price is right at the schools too.  For just $7, kids can get the day’s special, one example being chicken piccata and linguine and a drink. But probably the best part of this is just how healthy and nutritious the meals are while being appetizing to kids.

With 6 different salad mains to choose from (including Chinese chicken salad, low fat pasta salad), protein rich sandwiches (such as hummus wrap and oven roasted turkey sandwich), soft serve yogurt and so much more, this really is a dream come true for students.

Lopez explained some of the thinking behind his menu:

 “They’re kids, which means they’re always going to want the most unhealthy food. They want the pizzas and chicken fingers. The trick is to make that not so healthy food healthier so they really don’t know. It is kind of different going from 5-star restaurants to a school cooking for kids, but, at the end of the day food is food.”

In addition, this venture is good for the environment.  Currently using only biodegradable plates and utensils, the team is hoping to add a dishwasher to take it to the next level.  No sodas are sold and only yogurt (not ice cream and no added sugar). Most of the greens are taken from their own garden!

LA-Armenian Relations

Last week, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his wife Anna Hakobyan arrived in Los Angeles and went to City Hall for an historic first time visit. The event was hosted by Councilman Paul Krekorian, LA City Council’s first elected Armenian American. They were greeted by thousands of people, excited by the visit.  Los Angeles is home to the largest Armenian community outside of Armenia.

At the visit, Mayor Eric Garcetti addressed the Armenian visitors and said:

“You make Los Angeles what it is, truly a city of angels. A place where in times of division, in times of hatred,  in times of splitting us in two – everybody belongs here. And every Armenian feels as if LA is their second home; you belong to the city.”

Japanese Culture: From LA to TA

Japanese culture is alive and well from Tel Aviv to Los Angeles.  One individual who can attest to the Tel Aviv, Israel part is Mozes Victor Konig.  Last week, he had the opportunity to enjoy Japan Day courtesy of the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Eat. 

Hosted by Tel Aviv’s Embassy of Japan, for the last 11 years this event is intended to offer families a taste of Japanese culture within a Japanese-based atmosphere.

“I found it to be a really hands-on experience of Japanese culture,” Mozes Victor Konig, Tel Aviv, Israel based photographer said.  “Getting a taste of the tradition, hearing the language and meeting Japanese people living in Tel Aviv is about as real as it gets,” he said.

“This actually gave me a taste for learning more about Japanese culture.  Next time I’m in Los Angeles – hopefully at Thanksgiving time – I would like to visit the exhibition taking place at Japan House, ‘Bakeru: Transforming Spirits.’ It is very hands-on for kids which is appealing to me as there is an interactive display whereby you put masks on which – with the aid of digital technology – turns them into Japanese folklore figures. Tales include: Shishi Odori (beast dance), Nahamage (deity frightening kids who misbehave) and more.”

Japanese-Israeli relations have been improving in the last five to ten years.  In 2015, the Japanese PM, Shinzo Abe, visited Israel; the first time in a decade a Japanese PM had ever made the trip.  The idea behind the trip was to improve relations between the two countries and this has been happening ever since.

Los Angeles: Art and Culture

Los Angeles enjoyed its first ever Frieze Art Fair last week.  Between 15 and 17 February, the Fair – which has already been in New York and London – reached LA and was held at Paramount Pictures Studios, Hollywood.

Endeavor Agency brought Salma Hayek, Serena Williams and Tobey Maguire to the fair.  Featured there were the following: Doug Aitken, Judy Chicago, Karon Davis, Mike Kelley, Ed Ruscha and Cindy Sherman.  Crowds swarmed the fair and all tickets were sold.  Opening night was attended by the rich and famous including: Brad Pitt, James Corden, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Keaton  and Brad Pitt. But they were not the ones the fair was after (except for the publicity); rather the fair is interested in agents and producers who are looking to buy such as Jim Ginapulous, head of Paramount Studios.

A few hours into the fair, Hauser & Wirth put $1.8m forward from a private European foundation for a Mike Kelley installation; this was the most expensive piece sold at the fair.  The next most expensive was Yayoi Kusami’s Infinity Nets at Lévy Gorvyy for $1.6 million.