The year that was: Lisa Napoli’s 2014 in review

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The world’s first cardboard car is available in a convertible model, too

Los Angeles can be a daunting place to explore, which is why I love what I get to do here at KCRW–root out interesting people who are doing interesting things that might otherwise not get much media attention.

To that end, here’s a short-list, in no particular order, of some of my favorites stories I had the privilege of telling in 2014, in case you missed them.

Loving your neighbor one load at a time: Laundry Love

Rev. Nat Katz, left, leads a a group of volunteers who help people get their wash done
Rev. Nat Katz, left, leads a a group of volunteers who help with a costly basic need: Getting clean

A new twist on soup kitchens launched in East Hollywood. Rather than feeding the hungry, it’s there to help those who need help doing their laundry.  Volunteers take over a laundromat once a month and offer donated quarters and laundry supplies, as well as a boxed meal, to anyone who shows up.

No gas, no emissions, no engine: John Kilduff and the world’s first cardboard car

The world’s first cardboard car is available in a convertible model, too

John Kilduff is no car salesman.  But for this inventive art exhibition, the Blackstone Gallery, which consistently has some of the most inventive projects around southern California, was transformed into a dealership.  Visitors got the hard-sell from Kilduff, smarm and all, for the world’s first zero-emission cardboard car.  Think it’s real?  There’s this bridge I could sell you…

Making art through sickness and health: Dominic Quagliozzi

Quagliozzi stands before a painting he made of the distant cooler that contains the lungs he needs to survive
Quagliozzi stands before a painting he made of the distant cooler that contains the lungs he needs to survive

The artist Dominic Quagliozzi is an accomplished painter and performance artist who weaves his struggle with cystic fibrosis throughout his work.  Since this profile, he’s been approved for a double-lung transplant and has been bulking up his weight and strength at the gym (cranking up the oxygen tank he relies on) so he’s prepared for the surgery, when the time comes.

Oh, the horror: “Trophy Heads” may not yield a statuette, but fans devour

Once more, with feeling
Once more, with feeling

Long-time horror impresario Charles Band cranks out the horror from a warehouse on Skid Row.  While the rest of Los Angeles, and the world, went mad for the Oscars, I paid a visit to the set of the web series Trophy Heads.  Lots of screaming.

High school gets kids to watch the news–by delivering it themselves

Prepping to go on the air at KCAV news
Prepping to go on the air at KCAV news

Visiting the set of a weekly, student-produced closed-circuit television news show at Grover Cleveland High School in Reseda was an inspirational antidote to “kids-these-days” bad news stories–especially given the wide diversity of ethnic backgrounds among the cast and crew.

Gluten-free injera makes for a happy, vegan Ethiopian Christmas

Azia and her daughter riff on traditional Ethiopian cuisine at Mercado La Paloma near downtown
Azia and her daughter riff on traditional Ethiopian cuisine at Mercado La Paloma near downtown

And finally, to come full-circle as we approach Ethiopian Christmas on January 7th, earlier this year I visited Azla Vegan at Mercado La Paloma near downtown, where Nesanet Abegaze cooks up vegan Ethiopian cuisine with her mother, for whom the restaurant is named.

Got a great story to share in the realm of arts, culture, or just something interesting going on around southern California?  Please send it along to me at lisa.napoli@kcrw.org. And happy new year!