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Entries in Malibu (3)


The Hidden Delights of Malibu Canyon

Photo courtesy of Makaela TrussellIt's easy to forget that there's more to Malibu than the windswept curve of the PCH, the golden span of Zuma Beach, and Highway Patrol officers who can't wait to hear your theories on how the Jews started all the world wars. But let me put your mind at ease; Malibu contains multitudes.

First off: hidden up in the canyon, there's the Malibu Cafe, which wins my award for Most Magical Restaurant That Almost Nobody Knows About. Nestled in the glades of the Calamigos Ranch, the site resembles a hybrid of the Shire, a game room, and an aging gay cowboy's backyard. Let me explain...

The restaurant is on an open-air deck overlooking a lawn, where you can have your lunch hidden away in a cabana or do it picnic-style on your own little island in the nearby lake. 20-foot-tall steel rose stems bloom flames that act as heaters for the tables on the deck. Scattered around the grounds are an outdoor pool table and a shuffleboard set-up, poised under chandeliers hung from trees. Locally grown wines pour freely and plates of lobster cobb salads, devilled eggs and smoky pulled pork sandwiches glide past. You'll probably be seated by a long table of local ladies on a girls-day-out who pull off the remarkable feat of all looking and sounding like exactly the same person, but that won't matter. You'll spend the entire time with that tingly sensation of having discovered something special.

Onwards. Next stop is a hike at The Paramount Ranch, a fake western town built by the titular movie studio in 1927. It's played the OK Corral for Gary Cooper and ancient China for Cecil B. Demille. More recently, it was the set of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and HBO's Carnivale. Most importantly, last year it housed the production of Insane Clown Posse's Big Money Rustlas (which, for those philistines unfamiliar with ICP's body of work, is the Old West "prequel" to their 2000 think-piece Big Money Hustlas. It stands as a deeper, more nuanced examination of the duo's pet themes: morality, class warfare, and being fat despite doing a bunch of meth.) Any self-respecting film buff must pay a pilgrimage to this hallowed ground.

It's spooky and silent, a favored hangout for coyotes and quail. Thin arteries of hiking trails snake up into the canyon, leading you to cinematically monikered places with names like Witches Wood and Marco Polo Hill. It's all easy hiking, but it's got its charms.   


•WHAT: A dreamy lunch spot and a ghost-town hike in Malibu
•WHERE: The Malibu Cafe, Paramount Ranch
•WHEN: The Cafe = Thurs-Sun, 12-10 PM, the hike is all week dawn to dusk
$$$: Cafe = $12 a plate, hike = free


'Shade' On The Shore

When I think about Shade, the once-a-month "day party" created by Porter Tinsley and DivaDanielle, a few indelible images spring to mind. I see a park bathed in pastoral summer light, where a couple hundred people gather on picnic blankets around a makeshift DJ booth and a grass dance floor. I see revelers of all ages getting their groove on, neon-clad girls hula-hooping and Vibram-shoe-wearing dudes practicing parkour vaults up the stone park wall. I see full-grown adults playing with a giant Jenga set, focused with the kind of intensity usually seen in air-traffic controllers. Silk-rope acrobats lithely descending from trees. Dogs lounging. Little kids scampering. Me drunkenly attempting to do a front-flip down the slide of a bounce-house and somehow getting my shoe stuck in the ceiling. Ah, memories.

You've got a chance to create a few of those images yourself this weekend -- because on Saturday at Zuma Beach, the girls are throwing Get Lucky, a Shade-goes-to-the-shore party. It's going to be 8 hours of dancing in the sand and playing in the surf, with beats courtesy of Todd Spero, Jacques The Ripper (check out "Pushing Magnets", his funky breaks set from Lightning In A Bottle) and of course, the Shade ladies themselves. You'll be hard pressed to find a better collection of reasons to live in LA within the space of one afternoon.

(Note: Zuma Beach cops are alcohol nazis and will be checking containers for booze, so leave the hooch in the car. And be sure to carpool, because parking fills up quick!)


WHAT: Shade goes to the beach for Get Lucky
WHERE: Zuma Beach, tower 2 - 30050 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, 90265 
WHEN: Saturday July 9th, 1 PM - 9 PM
$$$: FREE!!!

Places To Have Sexytime In Public: Solstice Canyon

Of the many (three) journalistic principles I uphold, somewhere between "Report the truth as fully as possible" and "No Snitchin'", there is the ever-important "Give credit where credit is due." So allow me to do just that: in their 2010 "Best Of" list, the fine folks at the LA Weekly ranked Solstice Canyon as the "best hike for public sex" -- and being the fearless investigative reporter I am, I plunged in deep to examine their claim.

I'm going to stop here before I run out of single entendres.

Solstice Canyon is one of those hidden-in-plain sight treasures that make the Malibu mountains so alluring. The hike starts with a kick-you-in-the-face hill followed by a couple lovely winding miles of trail overlooking the Pacific, passing by what's locally known as the Darth Vader House -- an blue-steel-and-glass 80's monstrosity that can either resemble the Star Wars villain's head or a really high-tech gimp-mask, depending on what your hobbies are. The trail descends through the scorched remains of homes that were repeatedly destroyed by fire over the past 50 years, before finally leading you up to the big payoff: waterfalls, stone pools big enough to go snorkeling in, and secluded grottos that almost insist on your indiscretion.


• WHAT: Knockin' hiking boots at Solstice Canyon
• WHEN: Good all year round (the warmer the better)
• $$$: Free