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Underrated / Overrated

December 20, 2007

Underrated

We went to a performance of "Alex in Wonderland" -- written, directed and choreographed by Debbie Allen -- at the UCLA Freud Playhouse and were blown away by star Kyle Jones, an 11-year-old with mad tap dancing skills. "Alex" closes Friday, but if Jones is any indication, Allen's nonprofit charitable organization in Culver City (80% of students are on scholarship) is one of the best investments a dance fan can make. Donate at www .debbieallendanceacademy.com.

The carpet is torn, the aisles are too narrow and the shelves are nearly overwhelmed by the inventory. But what this hole-in-the-wall West L.A rental shop lacks in ambience, it more than makes up for in service thanks to a knowledgeable proprietor-owner who stocks a great selection of new, classic, foreign and otherwise offbeat films and lends them all out at 99 cents a pop. ( www.desirevideostore.com)

DEBBIE ALLEN DANCE ACADEMY

VIDEO STORE NAMED DESIRE

RAIN IN L.A.

It makes a mess of traffic and hair, but there's something grounding about actual weather in Southern California. Pulls people's heads out of the Technicolor clouds and makes them deal with the immediacy of life. Are we getting too abstract?

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Overrated

KITSON

We are bewildered by the popularity of this boutique, filled with overpriced, over-designed froufrou. Entering one of their four stores on Robertson Boulevard is like teleporting to another universe -- a place where mothers dress like their daughters, muffin tops (for the blissfully ignorant, that's bellies spilling over hip-hugging pants) are still in vogue, and people willingly pay $35 for a tube of toothpaste.

LEGALIZING ABSINTHE

The acerbic green wormwood beverage that can allegedly burn holes in your brain tissue and tipped Van Gogh into paroxysms of ear-slicing paranoia is now available at any old white-bred, upper-class drinking establishment. It was sexier when you had to smuggle it in from Prague or Canada.

DESIGNER T-SHIRTS

That old last-minute gift standby, the cool, cheap T-shirt, is just about extinct. Christian Audigier's "Forever" tee in "Winter White" will set you back $143 on Melrose Avenue. The Murakami tees at MOCA's gift shop will run you $69. The most basic model from James Perse goes for $42. We find ourselves driven to contribute to the fortunes of Dov Charney, owner of that last bastion of affordability, American Apparel. And, oh, how that pains us.

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