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MY FAVORITE WEEKEND

Aimee Bender

April 22, 1999

* Author of "The Girl in the Flammable Skirt" will be at The Times' Festival of Books.

Go Greek: Start Friday at Maroush in Hollywood, which has the best gyros, crunchy but moist falafel and tiny cinnamon sausages, and the same chef and waiter who remember me. In L.A. that is especially satisfying, because this place is so huge. The stores across the street are in a language with an alphabet I can't recognize, and I like that too. Afterward, dancing at El Floridita is really fun--they have a 10-piece live band, the smell of garlic in the air, people from everywhere salsa-ing together. It's crowded, loud and joyous.

Spring Fling: I like to spend Saturday at the Huntington's botanical gardens. The pine trees right now are shedding needles, and are half orange, half green. A small jungle. A Japanese garden with rows of hanging lilacs. Or, I'll walk around Griffith Park or through a cemetery, which I find intensely peaceful and calming somehow. There's a great-looking, almost gothic, cemetery on Venice Boulevard that I've been wanting to walk around in. In general, I'd say my favorite weekend in L.A. involves walking. Go figure. Walking in L.A. is a precious activity, one I fit in whenever I can.

Bugs and Small Castles: It is always satisfying for me to infiltrate small specific worlds that are totally complete, like the Museum of Miniatures on Wilshire Boulevard across from LACMA. . . . The little scenes are so complete and engulfing, they remind me of a row of tiny novels. Or the insect zoo at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History; there is something so ridiculous and fun about looking at stick bugs that look just like sticks in a glass cage next to dung beetles all crawling over a pile of dung, also in a glass cage. Really.

Reading Out Loud: There are great readings at Beyond Baroque on Saturday nights--sometimes groups of teenagers reading poetry competitively, or visiting writers in a small black box theater in front of a red velvet curtain.

Tea Time: Sunday brunch at Hugo's on Santa Monica Boulevard is great because they have almost five pages of teas. Ha! I find that so funny and tempting.

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