Sunday, February 27, 2005

not a trace of irony

It was a friend's birthday and eight of us caught the Duran Duran concert at Staples Center. The tour is in support of the Astronauts album, it should called the "Un-Ironic Tour".

We had dinner at Wokcano, just south of The Pantry and a few blocks north of Staples Center. We loaded up on sushi and orange chicken then walked to the show. I knew it would a celebration of kitsch, but I had no idea I'd be hit over the head with it. Before we even got to Staples, my senses were assaulted. Was that Obsession that I smelled? Who took a bath in it, was it that girl with the crimped hair? Everywhere I looked, bad 80's fashion was proudly worn and I heard The Union of the Snake blasting from a car passing by. In the ladies' room, women were obsessing over their hair and outfits. Two women hogging the mirror were going on and on about their blue eyeshadow. "Excuse me, are you up on the stage performing tonight?" I asked. Puzzled, one replied, "No." Uh, yeah. Then get over yourself.

I didn't recognize the first song that DD opened the show with, it must have been from the new album (haven't heard it). The crowd was receptive, but it was obvious why we were all there, for sentimental reasons. Here's a partial set list, I know it isn't complete:

Hungry Like A Wolf (from Rio, 1982)
Planet Earth (from Duran Duran, 1981)
Come Undone (from The Wedding Album, 1993)
Union of the Snake (from Seven & The Ragged Tiger, 1983)
What Happens Tomorrow (new)
New Religion (from Rio, 1982)
Beautiful Colours (new)
Ordinary World (from The Wedding Album, 1993)
Save A Prayer (from Rio, 1982)
Notorious (from Notorious, 1986)
Wild Boys (from Arena, 1984)
The Reflex (from Seven & The Ragged Tiger, 1983)

White Lines (from Thank You, 1995)
Girls On Film (from Duran Duran, 1981)
Rio (from Rio, 1982)

The material has never been vocally challenging, but Simon sounded okay. He should be covered in a honey glaze though, he is such a ham. They had this video screen that didn't just have close-ups of the band, which is good. But at one point they had this animated thing going on which I didn't understand. At the end, a big "Duran Duran" in this Asian, chop-socky font covered the screen and all I could think of was, "I've got to try that restaurant, Duran Duran. I wonder if they deliver." At one point he spread his arms open wide a la Bono, as if to embrace all of Staples Center's occupants. Did he think he was in U2? Whenever they played a new song, the 30-something crowd would make a break for the restrooms or for another $9 watered-down beer. I didn't want to leave my seat, there was too much going on, even if it wasn't on the stage. Simon urged everyone to whip out their lighters during one ballad and let me just say - the times they have changed. Some obliged, but the glow seen all around the stadium was that of cell phones either taking snapshots or video of the stage. One woman in my crowd held up her cell phone, the light radiating from it a substitute for a lighter (she just quit smoking).

After the show, we stood on the top floor of the Center, surveying the crowd as they exited the stadium and the parking lots. It was a clear night and the lights of the downtown skyline looked great. One person in my group foolishly bought a Duran Duran mousepad and a $35 concert t-shirt. I told the rest of the crowd to wait until we walked up Figueroa, we could score $10 shirts there (better price, better quality). As they loaded up the van and made our way back to 5th and Spring, we polished off a round of downtown dogs. What a great way to end the evening.

freaks come out downtown

So much going on in downtown Los Angeles. I hit the Out In Downtown L.A. special open house at the Tower Theater in the Broadway Theatre District. The Tower isn't included in the L.A. Conservancy's regular Saturday morning Broadway theatre district walking tours, this was an open house held for L.A. area film location managers, with Out In Downtown L.A. as special guests.

The place is in pretty bad shape. They've filmed a lot of movies there, but Mambo Kings and Mulholland Drive were the only two that I remember. It is an ornate, but moldy and decaying theater - it smelled like it, too. Someone sitting behind me said the place looked like an old whore. I was afraid to touch anything, much less sit in a chair for the slide lecture.

Hollywood historian Marc Wanamaker of Bison Archives spoke about how the entertainment and filming industries began in downtown L.A. before gradually moving to Edendale, Hollywood, Culver City & Burbank. The slides showed how Hollywood and Highland, Sunset and Vine, and 5th and Spring (among other locations) looked back in the day. Compiling all this historical information is obviously a labor of love for Marc, evidenced by all the detail in his lecture. I was able to catch up on my sleep a little bit, but I'm so glad Marc does what he does. What really made this open house worthwhile was Rebekah Del Rio, who was in the film Mulholland Drive. She sang Llorando (Crying) from the Mulholland Drive Soundtrack and she has an amazing set of pipes. Woke me right up.

From the Tower, took a short walk to the Orpheum Theater which recently underwent a multi-million dollar restoration. We had to enter through the alley and it was the cleanest alley I've ever seen. Cleaner than when designer Jared Gold had his L.A. Fashion Week show in the alley across the street from Score's on 4th a few years ago. The rain washed the urine and trash right off the streets. It's all in Santa Monica Bay now. In any case, the Orpheum visit was a riot. The Los Angeles Theatre Organ Society was in the house, with some guy (whose name I don't remember) jamming on the "Mighty Wurlitzer Organ". The Orpheum Wurlitzer (installed in 1928) is the last surviving original installation of a theatre organ in Los Angeles. General Manager Ed Kelsey said a few words about the theatre, then Saturday Session Manager Steve Asimow took the stage and told us all that casual fans would ever need to know about wurlitzer organs and this one in particular. What a character. Then volunteer whose name I didn't catch spoke about the history of the Orpheum. He was a vaudeville artist who first came to the Orpheum in 1942 and he was an even bigger personality than Steve. He was a vaudeville comedian and a baton twirler and he had some great stories about what went down during the Orpheum's heyday. I highly recommend you take the tour - you'll see some amazing spaces and meet fascinating people with great stories to tell.

After the Orpheum visit we had lunch at Angelique French Cafe, a fashion district favorite. I was relieved that they serve breakfast past 11am on the weekends because their smoked salmon omelette is sublime. It was packed, so I was glad we had reservations. We were seated on the second floor where I had an unobstructed view of Ryan Gosling having lunch on the patio for what seemed like hours. I wish I could be a part of cafe society. It was a beautiful day and it seemed like all of Los Angeles wanted to be out and shake off the rainy day gloom that we'd been subjected to the past few weeks. Unfortunately that meant the place was packed and service was slooooow. I waited 30 minutes for my cafe au lait and an hour for food to arrive. From my perch on the second floor I was able to observe the traffic up and down Spring and Main streets. A lot of hipsters were out and about, clutching maps as they negotiated downtown, checking out lofts. The neighborhood is changing.

After lunch we made our way up Broadway to the Los Angeles Theater. It felt like the whole world was out in the streets. One guy zipped past me on his wheelchair, he was wearing bright red shorts, a red long-sleeve t-shirt and a matching red Chef Boyardee hat. And me without a camera. This was a thought that kept popping in my mind all day long. At the Los Angeles Theater, I thought the same thing when I saw the long row of urinals in the downstairs men's room, the crystal fountain on the second floor, and the refreshments room in the back. I was flabbergasted when I saw these rooms in condition they are now, it really must have been something back in the day.

After the tour I was that much more determined to stay downtown. And that was just the daytime account of my Saturday in downtown Los Angeles. Saturday night meant that I'd be at the Staples Center for the Duran Duran concert. Friends ask me all the time if I would consider living anywhere else. I can't think of any reason why I would want to live anywhere else in Los Angeles. Paris or Prague, that's another story.

Friday, February 25, 2005

i heart LAX

Jonah at LABlogs focused his weekly LA Insight on LAX. My answers follow.

1. Anything you like about LAX?
2. Anything you hate about LAX?
3. Parking at LAX, any tips/secrets?
4. Given the choice, do you fly out of LAX or one of the other Southland airports?
5. Food finds, are there any, and have you ever tried or wanted to try Encounter?
6. If LAX was a region of Los Angeles, what would it be?
7. Did you know that you can't mail anything from LAX? I didn't, until I tried to drop some bills off on the way to a two week vacation in Costa rica.
8. LAX Expansion, have you been following it, do you care?

1. I like the way it is laid out. Easy to navigate, easy to drop off and pick up. Other terminals around the country have done a very good job of sucking the romance out of travel, not LAX. There's something about the approach, whether you're coming from Lincoln, Century Boulevard, the 405, the 105, or a plane about to land - it reminds me of all the places that I still haven't seen (in and out of L.A.) that I want to see, or it inspires me to revisit favorite places, whether physically or while I zone out in LAX traffic. The place is full of promise.

2. Like anywhere else - rude, self-obsessed people with an incredible sense of entitlement jabbering on their cell phone while behind the wheel of the car directly in front of you.

3. Don't park there. Take a cab, take a shuttle, take the metro, have a friend drop you off. I don't mind taking my friends to LAX or picking them up, I doubt I'm the only one who feels that way. So I guess my tip is to find a friend who likes LAX as much as I do.

4. I've flown out of John Wayne, Long Beach and Burbank, but I prefer LAX. It's easy. But with JetBlue flying out of Burbank in May, I may have to give that a try.

5. I had dinner at Encounter a while back with a friend who had to review it. I don't remember much about the food, but since the manager knew we were reviewing the place, they made sure that we were good and liquored up. The view, the ambience, the service, the staggering amount of free booze - wonderful. I don't remember much of anything else. What I do remember shouldn't be recounted online.

6. Huh?

7. No, I didn't know that. What else can't you do at LAX?

8. Haven't been following it. I read something a while back plans to open up another airport somewhere in the Valley. Great idea.

just in the nick of time

This week kicked my ass, and it had nothing to do with the weather. I received this email today and their timing couldn't be more right on:

(050225 FRI)

7 Days a week from 8:00 pm - 2:00 am.
Phone # is 213.614.0888 (direct line to the Liquor Store).
Visa, Master Card, American Express and Cash. (Sorry no checks) We're trying to get into the loft bulidings to let you all know about it and drop off our menus. Give us a call and we'll be more than happy to let you know what we have in stock.


If only getting what else I need tonight were as easy. If only wishing made it so.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

what 5th and spring is...

Inspired by the Manolo, here's what I'm...



Grooving To...


And like the Manolo, I also dig Netflix. Thanks to Netflix, DISH, Academy screeners, and the rain, I watched a lot of movies this past week. Partial list:

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Garden State
Hotel Rwanda (Don Cheadle and Keir Pearson both deserve the Oscar)
Better Luck Tomorrow
Fist of Legend
Million Dollar Baby
The Matrix
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
50 First Dates


Where I Frequently Dine...

Where I Got My Drunk On The Other Night...

Monday, February 21, 2005

free gas in the valley

Just in case any of you will be in the Valley from 7am to 9am tomorrow, you might want to swing by the Mobil gas station at the corner of Sherman Way and Sepulveda - they're giving away free gas. That's right, a publicity stunt where you play video games while playstation fills your gas tank and washes your windows. Here's the press release:

PlayStation(R)2 Celebrates the Launch of the Highly Anticipated Gran Turismo 4 by Giving Out Free Gas to Consumers


Los Angeles Drivers Will Be Treated To Free Gas In Honor of the Launch of Gran Turismo 4 - The Latest Installment of the Top-Selling Racing Simulator Franchise Exclusively for PlayStation 2

Tuesday, February 22 - 7:00 AM - 9:00 AM
15303 Sherman Way
Van Nuys, CA

WHO: Fortunate Los Angeles drivers, gaming and automotive enthusiasts and Gran Turismo(TM)4 for PlayStation(R)2.

WHAT: Sony Computer Entertainment America, publisher of the best-selling Gran Turismo racing franchise for PlayStation 2, will celebrate the release of the gaming industry's most highly anticipated title and honor automotive excellence and car culture by offering free gas to consumers. A Gran Turismo Pit Crew will welcome consumers to the special event, filling gas tanks and giving drivers and GT4 fans a
chance to play one of the most anticipated titles in videogame history.

-- Hundreds of cars lined-up waiting for free gas
-- Consumers playing Gran Turismo 4 on racing kiosks
-- The GT4 Pit Crew filling tanks, washing windows

WHEN: Tuesday, February 22
7:00 AM - 9:00 AM

15303 Sherman Way
Van Nuys, CA
At the corner of Sherman Way & Sepulveda

Tim Cummins (310) 854-4800 or
Ryan Bowling (650) 655-3657 or

Tim Cummins (408) 712-5463
Todd Dufour (310) 892-0156

Friday, February 18, 2005

keep the derby dolls downtown

Do you remember roller derby? The Los Angeles Thunderbirds, the greatest team of the 70's? Before I moved to California, I watched the LA Thunderbirds skate and I wanted to skate in the roller derby. Now, we have the L.A. Derby Dolls, Los Angeles' debut all-girl, quad skate roller derby league. Yes, action fans, you heard it right -- roller derby! They are an actual league with more than 60 women divvied up into four teams, skating on a banked track.

Their web site says, "We're half-clad, all bad!!!" They look like The Suicide Girls on skates. Only I can't stand The Suicide Girls, so I hope they skate better than the girls strip (I caught their show at the Knitting Factory - blech. I wished I were at Jumbo's Clown Room instead, so much more fun). Their next event isn't until March 31st, on the Taste of Chaos tour at the Long Beach Arena ($25/$19 for tickets, 5pm). Who wants to go?

These days, I don't necessarily want to skate in the roller derby (I just saw Million Dollar Baby and fear injury), but I want to watch. I am also trying to convince one of my girlfriends to join the Derby Dolls (they are looking for more girls) so I can live vicariously through her.

Currently, the L.A. Derby Dolls train four times per week on a 100' X 56' banked oval track, located on a second story rooftop parking lot in the Chinatown district of downtown Los Angeles. But they need a new training facility and according to their web site, they prefer Downtown L.A., Hollywood, Glendale or Burbank. With all the press that downtown Los Angeles is getting, don't you think that we deserve our own roller derby team? I know having our own football team is too much to ask for, but we can't lose the Los Angeles Derby Dolls to Glendale or Burbank.

The Dolls are having a Movie Night to raise money at The Dollhouse on March 5th. They're showing Russ Meyer's ode to violence in women, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. Perfect. Who wants to go?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

celebrity sightings

I had two of them today. Neither happened downtown, but if you want to know about my brush with Al Gore and Edward Norton, go here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

neighborhood clothing

Saw a t-shirt on the street today: Rehab Is For Quitters. Whether that is funny or sad changes, depending on what is going on in my neighborhood at any given time.

I place clothes that I don't wear anymore in a nice shopping bag and place it by the trash can on my floor. They're usually gone in an hour. I like when I see my old clothes being worn around the neighborhood and I imagine the path that it took for that shirt or jacket to get to that person. Years ago my sister worked for a really shitty dot-com downtown. She gave a company t-shirt to a homeless man who would normally situate himself by the entrance to her building. It annoyed her coworkers who drank the Kool-Aid to see a homeless person wearing their t-shirt, but Laura and I were glad that it was actually worn.

So if you see a "Fucked Company", "", or a old Janet Jackson tour t-shirt being worn in the area around 5th and Spring, you'll know where that came from.

Someone offered to sell me a nice digital camera for $40, then finally $25 the other week. If anyone ever breaks into my home and steals my stuff for drug money or food or whatever, I wonder if someone would try to sell me back my shit, not knowing it was mine.

Monday, February 14, 2005

cool los angeles-focused web sites

This week (or was it last?), LA Insight asks about cool Los Angeles-focused web sites:

This week's LA Insight has to do with online resources which are targeted to Los Angeles. I'm not going to structure a set of questions for this one, other than to ask, what are some some cool Los Angeles focused web sites?

Obviously there's this one. Living in downtown Los Angeles can't help but inform my other blog, Marauding For Flesh, but I list a few on the links section of this blog. LA Blogs and the comments have covered the main ones, but I've found a few new ones thanks to the comments on LA Blogs.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

disrupting filming

There was a film crew across the street. I saw the big trucks hogging all the space on Spring Street earlier this morning, like 7am in the morning (what was I thinking?). Later this afternoon, I took a walk around the block to clear my head. Even before I left the penthouse I heard that guy on the street corner who always delivers his sermons in that droning monotone. He's really loud. Ten floors up loud.

I stepped out of the building and Mr. Preacher Man was on the same corner as the film crew. They were filming Single White Female 2, and they were on the northwest corner of 5th and Spring. From the looks on the faces of the cast and crew, Mr. Preacher Man was annoying everyone, droning on while they were trying to get their shot and he had been at it for a few hours. He looked at me and nodded in recognition, not stopping his sermon, not skipping a beat. I thought about pumping my fist in solidarity, but decided against it and just nodded back.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

do you have a favorite voodoo curse?

I came home and the LAPD pulled up to the front of my building. Four of them were dispatched because some crazy old guy lit a cigarette in the elevator. Four cops. One cigarette-wielding guy.

The voodoo woman was in the lobby, cursing the police. Not cursing at, but throwing voodoo curses. She's wild. I predict that one of these days I'll come home and she'll be shaking a chicken at someone and I'll never see that person again.

I almost didn't move into my building. Seven+ years ago when I showed up to look at my current pad, this really big, really scary guy was coming out of the elevator as I was waiting to get in. He was speaking very loudly to no one in particular about how he "had shit to do" when he stopped in mid-sentence and stared while I walked past him. He yelled at me as the elevators closed, "You're the prettiest Chinee girl I've seen here. Do you live here?" I'd see him around from time to time, he was really scary when he didn't take his meds and I never rode the elevator alone with him. About four months later, I saw him in the lobby and he was yelling at the voodoo woman. She was throwing curses at him. I haven't seen him since. Those four cops should worry.

I hear some wacky things in my elevator, but I see the craziest things in my lobby.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

freelance writing gig & Barney's Warehouse Sale

I was able to breathe a sigh of relief. A friend hooked me up with this new company that needed someone to write all their marketing material. Press releases, ad copy, website verbage, the whole shebang. Since the two owners are young and fairly hip, I was relieved to find that I actually like their service and that they weren't exceedingly corporate. Not a bad gig. They're called Shopper Shuttle and they run a shopping service that shuttles tourists, business travelers, international stewardesses, and Angelenos (who don't like to drive) around to shop. I like to shop and hate to drive, so when I get a regular gig, I will probably use their service. And their VP of Publicity and Marketing shares the same name as me. I think that's one of the reasons why she dug me too. I don't meet many Celias.

What I really like about this company is that they have these special shopping trips and they schedule regular pick-ups from downtown Los Angeles. They have shuttles leaving every hour from Union Station to the Barney's Warehouse Sale(!!!), February 10th to the 12th. I probably can't hit the sale because I'm so broke, but they've got another big sale in April. If you plan on hitting the Barney's Warehouse Sale and don't want to hassle the traffic and parking, use Shopper Shuttle so they can hire me again, I need the work.

battling traffic

This new website helps commuters and businesses find rideshare partners, carpool lanes, park & ride lots, bike paths, etc. According to the site, 73% of the freeway traffic comes from single passenger vehicles.

I suddenly care a lot more about freeway traffic because this morning, I had to drive to the westside for a breakfast meeting. My breakfast was scheduled for 8am, I was 30 minutes late. What was I thinking scheduling a meeting on the westside before 11am? Oh yeah, I lost my job last week and can't be picky about meeting times any more. While I sat in traffic on the 10 freeway, I took a good look around at the other cars. Single passengers in every SUV, everywhere I looked. I hope I don't have to take a job on the westside, that's a soul-sucking commute. But a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do...

Monday, February 07, 2005

don't let the man ruin your day

Friends have commented to me that the cops in downtown Los Angeles seem to turn a blind eye to things that would definitely get you stopped on the westside. I was walking back home from Pete's Cafe about a month ago and I saw this guy drinking a Mickey's Big Mouth walking past me. He didn't have it in a discreet brown paper bag, he was waving it around drunkenly and bellowing about the cops for everyone to hear. A police car rolled past us and I saw the cop sitting in the passenger side glance at the both of us. They stopped at the corner of 5th and Spring, but only because the light was red. The guy with the open container didn't pipe down, he only got louder. As he approached the corner, he threw the bottle at the police car's tires and glass and liquid flew everywhere. The cops didn't even blink, as soon as the light turned green, they took off down the street. My friends had a point.

So you can imagine my surprise this past weekend when I was walking home from Pete's Cafe and I saw a motorcycle cop stop a guy who was crossing the street against the light, with no oncoming traffic in sight. The cop started writing the guy up, I assume it was for jaywalking. Minutes later and further down the block, I saw the same motorcycle cop writing up another pedestrian. For what, I have no idea. But this guy had a boom box on the ground. Even though the cop was writing him up, this pedestrian wasn't going to let that get him down. As the music blasted from his boom box, he just kept dancing. As I walked past, I waved and pumped my fist in the air for solidarity. He pumped his fist right back at me and kept on dancing. What a great attitude, I need to remember that the next time I get upset about something stupid.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

short attention span theater

I was on my way out the other day and got on the elevator. Two men were already inside, but no buttons were pushed. I pushed my button and took a step back. In my building, you don't want to stand too close to most people in the elevator. The guy in the corner started rubbing his crotch while staring at me. Not adjusting himself surreptitiously, but outright rubbing himself over his jeans and balls-out staring. Was he one of the sixteen registered sex offenders living in my building? I chose to ignore him, pretending I didn't see him rubbing himself as if he were the masturbating bear on Conan.

The other guy in the elevator stood near the front of the car, facing me at a slight angle, smiling. He looked like Mr. Rogers, if Mr. Rogers were on the Night Train Express. The elevator stopped on his floor, he smiled broadly and said, "Have a nice day," as he walked out. I was a bit anxious about riding six more floors alone in the elevator with this guy. But lately I've been a seething cauldron of anger, so if anyone acts the least bit inappropriately, I have no doubt I will overreact and kick the living shit out of him/her until my leg gets tired. So I rode, almost wishing he'd try something so I could take my aggression out on someone who deserved an ass-kicking. But as soon as the other guy left us alone in the elevator, the perv stopped rubbing himself.

To my relief, the elevator stopped a couple floors below and another guy got on. I've seen this guy around before and he'd always been friendly and seemed somewhat normal. Relatively normal. Who am I kidding? He was a freak. A friendly, non-intimidating freak, but a freak nevertheless. He looked at the both of us and asked, "Do you guys like meat?" Poker-faced, I shrugged indifferently. I don't think the question registerd with the perv, but he started rubbing himself again. "I got steaks, I got chops, I got some ground beef. I got them in my room, I'm in room 426 if you're interested." I shook my head, "No thanks, I just went grocery shopping." He looked at the perv rubbing himself in the corner, looked him up and down, but chose to ignore the contstant rubbing.

The buzzer went off, and I was at my floor. Perv was still rubbing himself and I was torn - should I stay and see how this all plays out? I had places to go, so I exited and imagined ways to work that short ride into a screenplay.

Later that day, I rode the elevator at 1901 Avenue of the Stars in Century City. Other elevators in this city are so boring, comparatively speaking.