Name: Nicole LaPorte
Role at Fast Company: Contributing writer
Titillating fact: Nicole once earned the honor of being on the losing-est basketball team—of all time. It was her freshman team in high school. "We were awful. One game was so bad that we lost 70 to 0. This was so unheard of that Sports Illustrated wrote us up; apparently we had made history. The whole experience should have scarred me for life in some way, but I think even then I was somewhat amused by it. The next year, though, I tried out for cross-country."
Things she's loving:
This site is one of the best time-sucks on the Internet, but because there is some patina of education—you're learning about geography!—it can't be called a total guilty pleasure. The game is basically a mash-up of Google Street View and Trivial Pursuit. You're given a 360-degree view of some location in the world—the palm tree wilds of what looks like Hawaii (but could be Guatemala); an ice blue lake surrounded by snow-capped peaks (Alaska? Switzerland?)—and you have to guess where it is by clicking on a world map. The closer you are to the actual location, the more points you get. Doing well comes down to nuance: identifying native plant species or noticing that a bunch of cars have European-made ski racks. Or you can just point and click on what feels like the right hemisphere and hope for the best.
2. Vintage Paparazzi Photographs From the 1970s, courtesy of Beautiful/Decay
I love this sampling of 1970s paparazzi photographs by Brad Elterman a) because they don't feel like paparazzi photographs, they feel like snapshots that just happen to have famous people in them, and b) because they show Los Angeles back when it felt more like a small town (so I'm told). I.e., the kind of place where Rod Stewart just happened to be playing soccer shirtless before strolling over to chat up a dog walker with nice legs. I also love seeing the softer, more vulnerable side of Joan Jett, who here looks like a teenager shyly talking on the phone in bed, a pink stuffed elephant standing watch on the night table. And Robert Plant in a Speedo—come, on!
3. The Los Angeles Public Library Old Menu Collection
So this is another tribute to Vintage Los Angeles: the LA Public Library's collection of old restaurant menus. The site itself is charmingly antique in a public library website kind of way—you have to enter the menu you want, then keep clicking to pull up the image—but you can ultimately see, say, the original Brown Derby menu, where a Teriyaki Steak dinner (avec sweet potato, coconut, pineapple rings, and cheese bread) would run you $5.95. A much better deal could be had at the Cocoanut Grove at the old Ambassador Hotel, where Casserole of Emincé of Chicken à la King with Rice was just $3.75. Dessert was even more of a steal: Coupe Monte Carlo for 60 cents.