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Archive for the ‘Westwood’ Category


Westwood’s competition: The rise and fall of the Village’s business

Editor’s note: Like many locals, I’ve shopped all around Los Angeles – the Grove, Santa Monica Place, the Beverly Center and a handful of other malls – but never in Westwood. In this second installation of a series on Westwood’s rise, decline and future, we look at Westwood’s business competitors.

Even though I’ve lived in Los Angeles my whole life, no one had ever asked me to hang out in Westwood Village until I got to UCLA. They would suggest Santa Monica or the Grove, but never Westwood.

After several months of being the city news editor at the Daily Bruin, I’ve developed a clear obsession and respect for the Village. So now, I ask myself: Why doesn’t anyone want to hang out in Westwood?

Westwood Village wasn’t the typical shopping center, and that’s what made it stand out. It was a series of city blocks where anyone could park their car and stroll around, glancing at the many storefronts and buying anything interesting they saw. A sign on the corner of Wilshire and Westwood boulevards in the 1940s described Westwood Village as “America’s most unusual shopping center.”

Then, by the late 1980s, it took a turn for the worse.

Some blame the gang-related shooting that left a bystander dead in 1988, saying this showed the declining safety in the area. But one should look for factors outside of Westwood as well – Westwood Village’s decline ran parallel to the rise of more hip, upscale shopping centers that only hurt the Village even more.


Businessman and real estate developer Rick Caruso, when he opened the Grove in 2002, tried to create an old-town nostalgic feel, complete with a fountain and trolley, in an outdoor mall. This, as well as a 14-screen movie theater, may be factors that compel more than 18 million customers per year to travel to the mid-Wilshire mall.

The manufactured atmosphere Caruso created makes customers feel like they themselves are rich, shopping in one of the most luxurious places. This model, which he has replicated in Glendale’s Americana at Brand and plans to do so in Carlsbad among other places, has granted him great success.

Similarly, Third Street Promenade tries to offer the same type of grandeur that the Grove does.

The center, operated by the city of Santa Monica, has began focusing more on chain stores instead of local businesses, garnering more than $300 million annually from 10 million customers. Its prominent location by the beach and its easy accessibility by bus or car makes it more appealing to customers than Westwood.

While these two malls thrive, others, such as the Westfield Century City, have decided to change in order to keep up.

A few miles from campus, the Century City mall is undergoing $800 million in renovations to add more open space, a plaza and make one-fourth of the mall dining. Westfield Group is doing this to distinguish its mall from other other centers, whose primary objective is retail. Westfield Century City’s proximity to Westwood, as well the amount of money that its private owner has at its disposal for revitalization, pose an economic threat to the Village.

These shopping centers have the crowds, the nightlife and appeal that Westwood Village once had. That, and a central vision.

The Janss brothers planned Westwood Village with the end goal of creating a shopping center that would serve UCLA students and residents. They made it stand out by creating a 170-foot tower atop the Fox Theater and bringing a flagship Bullock’s department store. Unlike today, it was a destination that people purposely decided to go to, not a place where they end up.

Even as market competition emerged in the 1980s, a decision of where Westwood should go hasn’t been made; rather, there are a number of conflicting opinions that have stunted its growth. Students’ desires for more fast-casual establishments and entertainment options conflict with some residents’ inclinations for more dine-in restaurants and a less vibrant nightlife.

Westwood Village, though, is not a shopping mall. It does not have the generic characteristics that a regular mall, or the new outdoor shopping centers, have. It can be different. It can be unusual.

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Westwood, for rent: The Village’s past and present

Editor’s note: This is the first in a weekly series about the rise, decline and future of Westwood Village, a historic Los Angeles business district located near some of the wealthiest areas of the city: Bel Air, Brentwood and Beverly Hills. City editor Roberto Luna Jr. looks into the reasons for Westwood’s oft-discussed decline and what, if anything, could be done to change things.

Whenever I walk down Westwood Boulevard underneath the broken clock tower past the Janss Investment Company building, I think about what I missed.

In its glory days, Westwood Village had crowded sidewalks, a vibrant nightlife and more than 20 movie screens. For a UCLA student, a Westwood resident or the casual visitor, this place had it all.

This was how Edwin and Harold Janss, the original developers of Westwood, envisioned Westwood Village when they premiered it in 1929. After luring the University of California Board of Regents to move its second campus here, they wanted to create a business district that would not only serve the new UCLA community, but also the residents they were bringing into the surrounding areas.

The Janss brothers brought a mix of businesses to the Village, which thrived until the late 1980s, according to the Los Angeles Times, to accommodate both students and residents. For that reason, they brought in chain stores as well as mom-and-pop shops. Among those stores were Bullock’s, Ralphs, Oakley’s Barber Shop and many more.

More notable were the Fox and Bruin theaters, which together became a hotspot for movie premieres. The large crowds they drew not only showed the theaters’ popularity, but also how people were willing to come to Westwood Village.

That cannot be said today.

Westwood Village’s age shows in the dust that has gathered on its vacant store fronts, its lack of entertainment spots and occasional passersby, most of which are all but forced to dine or shop in the Village because of their status as students or employees and have no where else to go.

Students, the Village’s primary customers, find themselves venturing into Westwood because they need to, not because they want to. They have Target or Ralphs for groceries and supplies, but they will often ask themselves where else in Los Angeles they will go for the day.

In a city that has the Grove and a bustling Hollywood district, the Village needs to stand out if it wants to thrive. The rest of Los Angeles being Westwood’s biggest competitor forces any revitalization efforts to be noteworthy, something that doesn’t seem to get done too often.

Luckily, several businesses’ expansion to Westwood means there are signs of life left. From Urban Outfitter’s daring expansion last year to Francesca’s and Paper Source’s arrival this fall, stores appear willing to venture in Westwood again. That and projects such as Gayley and Lindbrook and Plaza La Reina shows that development in Westwood is on the rise.

Westwood Village needs to be revitalized to fit the needs and wants of UCLA students and to give a unique experience for the casual shopper. But above all, given its historic significance in Los Angeles culture, it deserves to thrive.

If we take a close look at past models, it can help invent a new formula to solve the problem. We will never see the Westwood of the past again. But that may be a good thing. The changing market and people’s interests requires any business district, not just Westwood, to adapt.

Development will not revive Westwood Village unless there is a central vision. This should be left at the hands of the business improvement district and landlords in charge of signing leases and residents themselves. However, too much of an involvement in development by residents can stunt growth.

After endlessly waxing nostalgic about Westwood Village, I have thoughts about all that’s to come.

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Fraternity Holiday Lights: A Definitive Ranking

Each year, fraternity houses at UCLA compete in holiday light displays and are the object of much discussion. We at Mojo wanted to seal the debate with some factual evidence and entirely subjective ramblings. We bring you our definitive ranking of this year’s holiday lights, based on effort, aesthetic quality and originality, as seen on Friday.

19. Pi Kappa Alpha

Oh hi, PIKE, didn’t see you there.

Bonus points: The night light that shines when you pass the house made us feel special. And qualifies as “light,” if not “holiday.”

Effort: 0/5
Aesthetic quality: 0/5
Originality: 1/5

Pi Kappa Alpha

Pi Kappa Alpha - Automatic Light

18. Sigma Chi

Yet another Grinch who almost ruined Christmas, Sigma Chi flaunts its jumbo painted letters, but there’s no sign of holiday lights.

Bonus points: We did spot a (bare) Christmas tree through the gate, so there’s that.

Effort: 0/5
Aesthetic quality: 1/5
Originality: 1/5

Sigma Chi

17. Zeta Beta Tau

One lone room took it upon itself to compensate for ZBT’s shortcomings. Additionally, if you look closely, there is an American flag made of dangling Christmas lights that were lit Thursday and extinguished Friday. Go figure.

Bonus points: They did something.

Effort: 1/5
Aesthetic quality: 1/5
Originality: 1/5

Zeta Beta Tau
Picture taken Tuesday.

Zeta Beta Tau

16. Pi Kappa Phi

You tried, PiKapp, you tried.

Bonus points: The alley looks much better in real life than it does in this picture.

Effort: 2/5
Aesthetic quality: 1/5
Originality: 1/5

Pi Kappa Phi

15. Sigma Phi Epsilon

Sig Ep’s colorful string lights are arranged in a shapely manner and provide some measure of holiday cheer to passersby.

Bonus points: The red garland matches the red door. Well played.

Effort: 2/5
Aesthetic quality: 2/5
Originality: 1/5

Sigma Phi Epsilon

14. Triangle

We can’t vouch for Triangle’s contribution to the fraternity holiday scenery, but there is something to be said for a simple string of lights.

Bonus points: The display makes (geometric) sense.

Effort: 2/5
Aesthetic quality: 2/5
Originality: 1/5


13. Delta Sigma Phi

Now, Delta Sig looks nice. Using only white lights was a good call considering the green accents on the house. The lights are expertly arranged in straight lines (cough PiKapp cough). The display isn’t the most impressive and original, but hey, it works.

Bonus points: Delta Sig followed the house’s natural outlines.

Effort: 3/5
Aesthetic quality: 3/5
Originality: 2/5

Delta Sigma Phi

12. Theta Chi

Theta Chi looks pretty and tasteful, but lacks a “wow” factor.

Bonus points: The recent renovations make everything better.

Effort: 3/5
Aesthetic quality: 3/5
Originality: 2/5

Theta Chi

11. Beta Theta Pi

There is a lot of pressure on Beta to perform around Christmastime. The house is large and located at the intersection of pretty much everything. This means a lot of foot traffic and a whole lot more judgmental stares. The house looks festive, colorful and does not disappoint. However, the shapes and colors on the house don’t really come together in any sort of cohesive display.

Bonus points: We love the lights on the ramp. A(lpha) for effort, Beta.

Effort: 5/5
Aesthetic quality: 3/5
Originality: 2/5

Beta Theta Pi

10. Alpha Epsilon Pi

AEPi doesn’t have much to work with area-wise. The house is much smaller than some of the other fraternities, but this year the chapter successfully presented the Westwood population with an aesthetically pleasing display.

Bonus points: The blue letters with the white lights are captivating.

Effort: 3/5
Aesthetic quality: 5/5
Originality: 3/5

Alpha Epsilon Pi

9.  Alpha Gamma Omega

AGO has a wonderful canopy of lights strewn across its house that puts neighboring houses to shame. The fraternity respected the formula for holiday lights and did so successfully.

Bonus points: We love the simplicity of this elegant yet cheerful display.

Effort: 4
Aesthetic quality: 4
Originality: 3



8. Lambda Chi Alpha

The Lambda house looks festive and cohesive, if not incredibly original. Passersby don’t feel cheated and can fully revel in the joy of the season as they make their way up and down Strathmore Drive.

Bonus points: Lining every single window with lights? That cannot have been easy to do, so props.

Effort: 5/5
Aesthetic quality: 4/5
Originality: 3/5

Lambda Chi Alpha

7. Delta Tau Delta

We’re not convinced we like the purple at DTD, but that’s just us being terribly critical. The members obviously made every effort to deliver light-heartedness (get it?) this Christmas season. They did a fantastic job of outlining the house’s symmetry, but this would have been more difficult on an oddly shaped edifice.

Bonus points: The lit-up Greek letters are joyous.

Effort: 5/5
Aesthetic quality: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Delta Tau Delta

Delta Tau Delta

6. Phi Kappa Psi

Phi Psi is currently recruiting, but whoever put up these lights deserves recognition. The house looks great and turns heads with its strings of lights skillfully linking the railings together.

Bonus points: The wreath of lights makes the perfect finishing touch.

Effort: 4/5
Aesthetic quality: 4/5
Originality: 5/5

Phi Kappa Psi

Phi Kappa Psi

5. Theta Xi

Theta Xi made the most of its existing features, namely the row of bushes and the emblematic palm tree. The display also creates the perfect color balance and just looks straight-up pretty.

Bonus points: Santa is by the chimney, which is genius.

Effort: 5/5
Aesthetic quality: 5/5
Originality: 4/5

Theta Xi - Full View

Theta Xi

Theta Xi - Palm Tree

4. Sigma Nu

Sig Nu pretty much looks like a gingerbread house on a normal day, so we’re not surprised at how good the house looks during the holidays. There might be a little too much going on, but we’re being nitpicky. The entrance looks incredible.

Bonus points: Light-up candy canes and the tree. Best enjoyed slightly blurry.

Effort: 5/5
Aesthetic quality: 4/5
Originality: 5/5

Sigma Nu - Full View

Sigma Nu - Candy Cane Tree

Sigma Nu - Blurred Lights

3. Sigma Pi

Classic, effective, pretty. Good job, Sig Pi.

Bonus points: This display achieves a perfect (and symmetrical) balance of colors, and it looks good doing it.

Effort: 5/5
Aesthetic quality: 5/5
Originality: 4/5

Sigma Pi

2. Sigma Alpha Epsilon

We’re playing devil’s advocate here. For most, SAE’s annual holiday light show is the undisputed winner; we just see value in minimalism. That being said, the decorations are undeniably impressive and the fraternity’s attention to detail is admirable. Sig Alph goes where other houses don’t venture, even if it means creating a melting pot of colors and shapes and words.

Bonus points: Look! It’s Santa on his sleigh!

Effort: 6/5
Aesthetic quality: 4/5
Originality: 5/5

Sigma Alpha Epsilon

Sigma Alpha Epsilon - Santa's Sleigh

1. Theta Delta Chi

We’ll admit to being slightly biased by the design of the house itself, but we are thoroughly impressed. TDX marks its first year as a reinstated chapter – the fraternity is recruiting members again – with a holiday display that is nothing short of beautiful. The lights are understated, yes, but tasteful and detail-oriented.

Bonus points: We like the fun blow-up snowmen on the roof, and the theta is a wreath! That is all.

Effort: 4/5
Aesthetic quality: 5/5
Originality: 5/5

Theta Delta Chi - Front

Theta Delta Chi - Zoom

Theta Delta Chi - Palms

Theta Delta Chi - Snowmen

Who’s your number one? Tweet us @dbmojo or comment below to let us know.


This post was updated at 10:05 p.m. to add Alpha Gamma Omega to the rankings.

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Best Late Night Places to Study

Sadly, some of us still have midterms. (I don’t, yay), but I know how hard it is to crack open the books during the middle of the day. Let’s admit it, we always have that one midterm that we wait until the night before to start studying. You decide to take a “little nap” after your long day, and BAM it’s 11 p.m. and you only have 12 hours left until your test. Now don’t be deceived, the “All-Nighter” is a form of art. There is a technique to it, a certain method to its madness. First step is: location. So, for all you night owls out there, here is a list of some of the best study places on and around campus for you to venture to.



Starting third week of every quarter, Powell finally blesses us with its open doors from 11 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. It’s the perfect place for those of you who need ABSOLUTE quiet. Night Powell can became quite an interesting place as you stay later into the early morning. Don’t be alarmed by those who sleep in any possible corner or those who decide to take a break by taking pictures on Snapchat. (Yes, we notice you.) Be wary of the outlets; always make sure you sit somewhere you can charge your trusty Mac. Powell is a great place if you really want to get stuff done because, somehow, when you’re surrounded by working people, you tend to work more yourself.



The Starbucks on the corner of Weyburn and Broxton avenues is open 24 hours EVERY SINGLE DAY. I don’t know how they do it, but take advantage of it. I know I’m a person who needs my Venti White Chocolate Mocha with an extra shot in order to study, so this is the perfect place to go for you coffee-lovers. Beware, however, that after midnight they close down half of the building so there are very few seats left. It’s hard finding a seat as it is, ugh. Word of advice for studying here: Arrive early in the day and camp out until the sun rises … or whenever you finish.




For the dormies who are still on the Hill (somebody swipe me plz lulz), many of us find a certain home in the lounges of our buildings. Even apartment-dwellers come back to reclaim their old stomping grounds: Rieber Terrace eighth-floor study lounge closest to the elevator. But there are also the fireside lounges in Hedrick Hall and Rieber Hall, along with many other study lounges in the lobbies of each dorm building. These places can get a little more social and are not as quiet, so it’s a great place to go if you have group projects or want to study with friends. Note to non-dormies: Be patient, somebody will rescue you and swipe you into the buildings eventually.



Now most people I talk to agree that studying in your own apartment is a trap. There it is … your comfy bed in the corner of your eye … so warm and inviting … LOOK AWAY … but … it’s memory foam … and the pillow is Tempur-Pedic and – you get what I mean. So, a good option is to go over to a friend’s apartment to get some work done. BUT, don’t go to your best friend’s place if you know all you’re going to do is throw shade about your roommates, watch a “quick movie” on Netflix or just sleep in their bed. It may be hard to stay disciplined studying around friends, but the key is to make yourself uncomfortable: Sit on the hardest chair you can find, make it extremely cold in the room, anything to keep you up for the late night. Plus, make use of your friends by having them make sure you wake up on time when you want to take a quick nap. Or do The Pomodoro Technique (look it up) together!



If you have the discipline to study at your own place, by all means, do it. There is nothing like the wonderful feeling of privacy, the wonderful feeling of being able to scream when you want to, to cry when nobody watches, or, if you’re like me, to break out into a one-man musical to all of the greatest Disney hits (High School Musical is my best act). Studying in your own room is great when you really want to focus without any distractions at all. You can stay as long as you want; you can be noisy when eating that bag of SunChips from Bruin Cafe; you can do anything, really. But, it’s not for everyone, especially those who end up accidentally scrolling through Facebook for hours. Studying alone, there’s nobody to keep you in check except yourself, so beware.





For those who like to get away from campus, Philz Coffee became the talk of the town (for the NorCal people) when one of the coffeehouses opened in Santa Monica. Known for its delicious spin on coffee, Philz is a great place to go when you want to feel sophisticated while studying for your exams. They have a great menu (get the Iced Mint Mojito, just do it), but the building is sort of small, so it’s either a hit or miss when you try to find a seat. Philz Coffee didn’t quite make our list because Philz closes at 9 p.m. everyday. Still, try it just for the coffee, then go to Third Street Promenade and treat yo self … well maybe AFTER midterms.

That’s it! So, I hope you find the perfect place for you! GO MIDTERMS! WOO!

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How to Pull Off Trick-or-Treating as a College Student

keep calm

Do you feel like Halloween isn’t the same without massive amounts of candy and the competitive rush of trick-or-treating? On the actual night of All Hallows’ Eve, don’t despair and substitute the lack of candy with alcohol. Instead, relive your childhood with these tips for pulling off trick-or-treating when you look well over the max age limit. (more…)

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