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Postcards from Travel Near and Far by Jia-Rui


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90028, Hollywood

Trading CDs for cash at Amoeba Records

Dear ——–,

What we learned the past two weekends: used CD shops are interested in Swervedriver, “experimental noise” albums and the indiest of indie rock. They’re not interested in mandopop, French hip-hop or Ani Defranco. Bryan and I have been trying to clear out our basement, starting with our CD collection. We’ve basically gone digital, so there’s no reason for us to keep artifacts lying around. We started last weekend with Permanent Records, which just opened in Eagle Rock. They paid us $200 for about 100 CDs. I spent a dusty Saturday trying to match empty cases with their discs and came up with about 400 to take to Amoeba Records in Hollywood this past Sunday. We sold them about 200 CDs for $140 cash. (We declined the $180 in store credit.) Not a bad haul for stuff that’s just gathering dust in our closets, but I wish they had taken more. We still have about 200 discs we don’t know what to do with. (Why didn’t anyone want the Weezer blue album? Isn’t that a classic?) Is it time for a garage sale?

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90021, Downtown Los Angeles

Inside Church & State

Dear ——–,

Leah and Neal know their way around restaurants, so when they suggested Church and State, we happily said yes. The bistro was in the National Biscuit Company building — whose title finally explained to us how the cookie company Nabisco got its name — in a warehouse-to-loft part of downtown. It was pretty noisy so we had a little trouble hearing each other, but maybe that was intentional on the part of the restauranteurs. The better to get guests to lean into each other and feel “intimate.” The gem lettuce salad was boring, but the mac and cheese and salmon main course were fantastic. The salmon was wrapped in ramp — which Leah informed us is a wild leek that is rare because it can’t be cultivated. It was sitting in a basil veloute that made me want to tip the bowl and drink the stuff like soup. I restrained myself just to sopping it up with bread. Bryan and I considered for a moment ordering the a.o.c. butter from Normandy because it’s the first time we’d ever seen butter on the menu. But while it was the cheapest item ($3), special ordering butter just seemed so excessive.