2 Local Comedy Writers Have A Podcast All About Los Feliz
Here's a typical conversation between two people who have lived in Los Angeles for about six months:
Person 1, superficial: Doesn't L.A. feel less like a city and more like a bunch of suburbs squished next to each other?
Person 2, an intellectual who decided to Wikipedia Los Angeles history: Actually, L.A. is a bunch of formerly independent municipalities or privately-owned sections of land incorporated into one city. That's why the borders are so weird, and why some places are still technically their own city, like West Hollywood or Beverly Hills.
The focus on neighborhoods in Los Angeles is apparent to anyone within a few days of being here. The West Side versus East Side versus Actual East Side battle will never cease, and the stresses of transportation force us to become more familiar with the space we inhabit. While neighborhoods are exalted in all major cities (eyeing you, Gothamist), the added distance and separation between sections of L.A. turns each neighborhood into a concentrated version of whatever lifestyle is most attracted to that area. As a result, people develop very strong attachments to a particular 'hood.
Los Feliz is among the most historic and proud neighborhoods in L.A. Just south of Griffith Park, the neighborhood has a history of artists (Bukowski drank here and Walt Disney started his studio here), architects (Frank Lloyd Wright has two homes in the area, and his son has one as well), parody Twitter accounts, and celebrities trying to buy convents. It's also now the topic of a very, very niche (and aptly named) weekly podcast: Los Feliz the Podcast.
Comedians Morgan Murphy and Robin Shorr are neighbors who decided to turn their love and passion for the neighborhood into a full-fledged podcast. Seven episodes in, the friends have turned their funny and casual banter into a community service. Truly no local news is off-limits to them: they report on everything from the wine bar at Gelson's to the hardware store on Hillhurst. Both of them are comedy writers by trade, so the podcast is more "funny hang with friends" than hard-hitting news, with dashes of charm and references so specific to Los Feliz that it's a wonder anyone outside the city would even listen to the show.
LAist recently caught up with Murphy and Shorr at Friday's Barnsdall Art Park Wine Tasting, which is the subject of an upcoming episode. We spoke about the Los Feliz Ledger, Little Dom's, and showing love for Vermont Avenue.
One of the podcast's reviews on Podbay says your podcast is too Hillhurst-friendly and doesn't focus enough on Vermont. How do you guys respond to that?
Murphy: I love Vermont and I love Hyperion. I started in Los Feliz at Hillhurst and Los Feliz, so it’s what I’m familiar with the most. It’s not a judgment call, it’s a familiarity thing.
Shorr: I agree we have not covered Vermont in the same way we’ve covered Hillhurst. Our friend called it “drunker” so we may be in a different place in our lives.
Murphy: Favorite spots in all of Los Angeles is Figaro happy hour [on Vermont]. You never grow out of it because it’s cheap and good.
Shorr: I'll say my favorite spot on Vermont is the post office. I walk there a lot in the mornings because there aren’t a lot of blue USPS mailboxes in our neighborhood. House of Pies is there too.
Murphy: I'm old-school, I’m an Y Que fanatic. It's the place that sells all the t-shirts. If you need to get shirts for family members, friends, it’s the best. The Co-Op is great.
Shorr: I’m sad that Una Mae’s isn't there anymore.
Murphy: As a girl who gets overwhelmed by anything feminine, if I ever had a party or baby shower to go to, Una Mae's would have something.
Shorr: Una Mae’s, we want to make a plea to you to come back and revitalize our version of Vermont. We also need a timeline of what happened to Organic Liaison. There was a big outcry on Facebook when it opened because they shut down Vermont for the opening party. I remember thinking "What were they selling?" I wasn't against it, I just wanted to know what they were selling. And it turns out they didn’t know what they were selling, and they were open for a month.
Do you feel any competition with the Los Feliz Ledger?
Shorr: We don’t scoop anything.
Murphy: Occasionally someone we talk to knows a thing.
Shorr: I feel strongly that the Los Feliz Ledger is reporting the facts, and we are most likely not. And that's the bottom line. We're just saying the things in our head.
Murphy: The stuff you can really trust coming out of our mouths is when we say “Look what’s in the Ledger.”
If you were Echo Park residents, would the podcast happen in the same way?
Murphy: It could happen anywhere. I just wanted to make a podcast about my neighborhood. So then I met Robin, my neighbor.
Shorr: We had a lot of mutual friends who told us we live five houses down from each other.
Murphy: If we had lived in Echo Park as neighbors this would be a podcast about Echo Park.
Were you already having these conversations with other people, or did your meeting feel like a relief and allow you two to talk about the neighborhood?
Shorr: Everyone has a version of these conversations but they just don’t put them on the internet.
Murphy: I love that I'm learning a ton as we’re doing this podcast. I didn't know 80% of the stuff put in front of me, whether it’s about the art and architecture or the politics. I’m not that cultured a person when it comes to the neighborhood, I'm a pretty everyday person for this area, so a lot of the information is new to me too.
Shorr: Your everyday knowledge about the neighborhood is really helpful for people too. Hopefully people can connect. Like, oh, the hardware takes batteries, the library is on the site where Leonardo DiCaprio used to live. I think most people are having these types of conversations about their neighborhoods, they just don’t realize they’re doing it.
Are there any spots that you think would take away the spirit of the neighborhood if it left?
Murphy: I have a particular affection for Cafe Los Feliz just because it’s in the middle of a lot of stuff that’s new. I was really happy to see them expanding. I’ve been going there my entire East-side life, and I always knew it as a place with the best breakfast sandwich and great little pastries you can bring to parties, and the outdoor seating, so if they went away I’d be a little heartbroken. There’s a lot of positive things that happen when new businesses move in, but losing things you love is heartbreaking, and that's one place where if it went away, the spirit would go away with it.
Shorr: I agree.
Murphy: I’m starting a Bryce to Ambrose Conservation Society. I like Cheech’s Pizza as well. The Palace just left, and it's the same street. That’s my old walking route. I'd go every night, I’d make it three blocks and go, where do I want to eat.
Shorr: I’m trying to learn to be happy about the Starbucks opening next to Little Dom’s, that I get roughly five texts about per day. I get texts all day long from people asking me things I don't know the answer to about our neighborhood. Someone wants to know what Little Dom's was before Little Dom's and I don't know the answer. I tell them we're going to do a deep dive with the pastry lady at Little Dom’s.
Murphy: We really want to dig into Marshall High too.
Shorr: That's our big ambition. We want to have the people in the neighborhood to, during the school year, focus their attention and fundraising efforts towards Marshall High. It's unfathomable to me that we live so close to a high school that the community doesn't fully support because everyone flees to private schools. I feel like we have an historic and very good high school here and if they had our support they could do even better things.
Murphy: And it'll be way less weird to have more people than just me at Marshall basketball games.
Shorr: If we were in Texas there would be no question that we'd be involved in Marshall High sports. The big takeaway is to get more involved in the neighborhood.
If you weren't in Los Feliz, what neighborhood would you find yourselves in?
Murphy: Venice. Actually, no, Frogtown. Elysian.
Shorr: Eagle Rock or Pasadena. I love those neighborhoods. They have an emphasis on diversity, on the arts. They have really close-knit communities.
Los Feliz the Podcast has a new episode every week, and is available on their website and via Apple Podcasts.