Twitter makes hitting L.A.'s sweet spots a breeze

Though several of my travel requests wafted through the Twittersphere unanswered, Santa Monica technical writer Paul Sholar (@BkwdGreenComet) came through. I'd tweeted for restaurant recommendations near the just-opened Annenberg Community Beach House, home to the refurbished guesthouse William Randolph Hearst built for paramour Marion Davies. I was ready to relax after a windblown bike ride and tour of the new center, and

Bar Pinxto turned out to be both convivial and cheap: I caught the tail end of happy hour, when jamón sofrito and other tapas were six for $6.

kogibbq VERDE: 6PM-9PM@Toyota and Alpine Headquarters — Toyota Way & Van Ness; 10PM-2AM@The Brig — Abbot Kinney and Palm in Venice

Jet-lagged and a tad dubious, I punched Kogi's Venice location into my iPhone and rallied for the short drive down the coast. The 20-minute wait was less than I'd expected, and I spent it chatting with buddies Scott Trieglaff (@ScottTrieglaff) and Daniel Sahagun (@DanielSahagun), whose band The Broken Column is named after a Frida Kahlo painting. Our verdict: Kogi's $2 short-rib taco is the bomb.

Ninjkabat Woah. I just saw a sign telling visitors of this weekends' Festival of Books to tag their tweets with #LATfob. Internet and reality colide!

It may have been misspelled, but @ninjkabat's enthusiasm wasn't misplaced. The Los Angeles Times' annual book festival on the UCLA campus attracted scores of tweeters eager to merge old media with new, and inspired Pasadena social media consultant Dan Portnoy (@danportnoy) to convene a tweetup — meeting, in Twitter parlance — to discuss homelessness in L.A.

Only a handful of us showed up that Sunday afternoon. But the conversation, punctuated by frequent tweets, was lively. It ranged from the benefits of Twitter — "it doesn't matter who you are, but what you say," said homeless advocate Mark Horvath (@hardlynormal) — to the accuracy of The Soloist, the new movie based on Times reporter Steve Lopez' columns and book about a homeless musician living on L.A.'s Skid Row.

laurably Joy of #travel: Meeting folks like seatmates @axelwoolfolk of @bravenewfilms and war vet @rick_reyes, a new John Kerry

So, is Twitter a useful travel tool, or an overheated fad that has already jumped the shark?

"Back home, Twitter can distract you from the doldrums of your home life. But on the road it will only detract from all the potentially amazing experiences that come when you leave yourself open to your new surroundings," says travel writer Rolf Potts, who urges travelers to "cut loose from the electronic umbilical cord" of cellphones and social media.

Potts has a point. I cringe at Twitter's barrage of inane ramblings, marketing pitches and companion "ranking sites" that reek of high school popularity contests, and I can see the downsides of subbing an iPhoned tweet for quiet reflection and gratitude for being in a new place.

As a Twitter newbie, I've enjoyed interacting with followers and keeping up on the latest industry gossip. But without a critical mass of followers (or even with one), getting answers to queries can be problematic, and its usefulness to everyday travelers pales in comparison with more targeted sites such as, or Yelp.

And let's be honest: Do would-be cruise passengers on the Golden Princess reallyneed daily tweets updating them on the ship's progress through dry-dock renovations?

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