Sunday, January 30, 2005

l.a. insight photo challenge

LA Insight is challenging LA Bloggers to go find some cool pictures of their neighborhood, favorite places, parks, restaurants, etc. using the A9 Yellow Pages search with pictures to make a photo montage on our blogs. I rise to the challenge:










1. I live downtown, have since 1991. I used to work for the City of Los Angeles and every week, I would leave my office in City Hall, walk to Parker Center, get in a helicopter and take a ride over the city, taking aerial shots of public works projects.

2. I drive past City Hall on my way home almost every day.

3. This is the corner of 5th and Spring. From where I am, ten floors above, I can hear one of the neighborhood regulars' sermon. He drones on and on in this mesmerizing monotone, proselytizing four days a week (from what I've observed).

4. At the bottom of Angel's Flight, you'll find Ye Olde Taco House. They have the best Mexican food and inspire a loyal following. I frequent the place several times a week.

5. Cole's - where the men are slow and the women are fast. It's the safest bar downtown and a good place to get your drunk on any day of the week, but Wednesday night is the best time to go. Come here for the music, stay for the love.

6. I take the Metro every chance I get. My Metro stop is at Pershing Square and I also walk past it on my way to the Central Library.

7. A favorite stop on the Metro is Union Station. It houses Traxx, one of the best restaurants in town (Chef Tara rocks!) and a lively bar, even if it does close early.

8. I love sitting in the courtyard of the Music Center, especially on a warm summer night. The outdoor bar is open most nights, so I grab a drink and am thankful that I live downtown.

9. Pete's Cafe has really good mac and cheese. I come here for brunch with my roommates on the occasional Sunday, but it is a good place to take a date. Now that I think of it, I think I'm going there for brunch, as soon as I post this.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

bubba speaks

I will forever think of Bill Clinton as my President.

"William Jefferson Clinton was elected President of the United States in 1992, and again in 1996. Under his leadership, the United States enjoyed the strongest economy in a generation and the longest economic expansion in U.S. history."

Since it's all about me, never mind what the U.S. was experiencing when he was in office, I enjoyed the greatest economic prosperity ever. And he's a freakin' rock star. I almost jumped out of my skin when I heard he was coming downtown, to speak at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on March 2nd and 3rd, as part of the Music Center Speaker Series.

If you don't already subscribe to the Speaker Series, then you can purchase single tickets starting February 22, 2005. Details can be found on the Los Angeles Music Center website. I'm so excited!

Monday, January 24, 2005

maximum starbucks density

Justin has 43 Starbucks within a 5-mile radius of his home and wants to know, can anyone can beat that? So far, the highest is 170, but that's New York. I wonder who has the highest in Los Angeles?

There are 29 Starbucks within a 5-mile radius of my home. I have more registered sex offenders in my zip code than I have Starbucks within a 5-mile radius. I wish there were a way see how many pot dealers there are within a 5-mile radius.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

how many sex offenders does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

None. Sex offenders don't screw in lightbulbs, they screw in the stairwells of downtown SRO hotels, dark doorways, and alleys. Okay, that was a bad joke, but do you know how many sex offenders live in your neighborhood? During the first 96 hours after the Megan's Law database was launched o­n December 15, 2004, there were 14 million hits to the website, out of a total of o­nly 35 million people in California. Since I live in downtown Los Angeles and so many of my friends and family think I'm asking for trouble by living here, I thought I'd give the database a test spin to see who is in my neighborhood.

There are sixteen living in my building, and many that listed "Specific address not subject to disclosure" under the address column (three of whom I recognized from the neighborhood or my building), so there could be more. But in total, 168 offenders share the same zip code as mine.

I realize that much of this information could be dated. It is argued that many of these ex-cons committed illegal acts decades ago, purport to be reformed, and therefore should not be revealed at all. But when I'm riding in an elevator with two of them, that doesn't seem to matter as much. Another argument I've heard is that many of these offenders have cars and don't necessarily commit crimes in their neighborhoods, that they travel for such activities. But if they park their car in my garage or like me, sometimes get lazy and don't want to be so far from home, well...

It has also been suggested that offenders are more likely to re-offend under stressful conditions, such as when they are ridiculed or unable to find work. Have you been to my neighborhood lately? Lots of guys who are out of work hanging out. My roommate says he sees them sleeping on the subway. You could file that under the heading, "Stressful conditions". The guy who works the graveyard shift at the front desk tells me that my building averages three deaths a week, usually from someone who was just released from prison OD'ing, or fights over money, sex, and/or drugs. If I had a nickel for every time someone was thrown out of a window onto the street below, I'd have to visit a CoinStar.

So will this have any effect on the skyrocketing rents in my neighborhood? Doubt it. A few years ago, during the dot-com era, there was a website that would rate your neighborhood on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst, as far as crimes committed. I typed in my zip code and received a rating of 9, compared to say, 90210 and their rating of 3. I shared this info with all the cheesy westsiders who were moving to my 'hood, joining the neighborhood groups, and asking things like, "is there a recycling program down here?", or, "what can we do about the homeless problem, is there someone we should call if they continue to harass me for change?"

This won't cause me to move, I love my neighborhood. But I will definitely let the security guards in my building walk me to my front door when I come home late at night.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

to meet and date in l.a., end of story

For this week's LA Insight, the topic is dating in Los Angeles.

7. Your most memorable dating experience (good, bad or ugly)?

There was the racist ex-con I mentioned in answer to question #3 (my worst first date). Or one of my best first dates, found in my overly-long addition to my answer to question #2.

There was this one date in San Francisco. We had dinner in the city at Calzone's, then drove across the bridge. He took me to this spot that overlooks the bridge and the city. He held my hand and I didn't want him to ever let go. I felt like I was on top of the world.

8. Is there romance in Los Angeles?
Yes. But not on the westside.

to meet and date in l.a., parts 4, 5 and 6

For this week's LA Insight, the topic is dating in Los Angeles. Since I have so much to say regarding question #4 and #6, I'm including it with my answer to question #5.

4. Great date on a budget?
Drinks and dinner at the penthouse on a rainy night. If it's a clear night, go up on the roof.

5. And a date with no $$ limit?
Fly to Prague. There's a cozy little restaurant by the Vltava River, near where the swans sleep. I forget what the name is in Czech, but it translated to "The Grey Evil" and you can get a seven-course meal with Budvar or a great red wine called Bull's Blood for under $25 for two. Afterwards, a walk across the Charles Bridge to that spot where they threw the Queen's confessor to his death in the 13th Century or something like that. But that's not the point. You find his fingerprints on the rail of the bridge, place your hands on the prints and make a wish. No matter what your wish, you will always return to Prague.

6. Ever been on a blind date? How did it go?
Once. That would be the first runner-up for worst date, next to the racist ex-con with the extremely loud stage whisper. He took me to La Serenata de Garibaldi (the one in East L.A., thankfully), which was a good start. But, he carried a purse with him and clutched it tightly most of the night, he didn't order well so he tried to eat the food off my plate (didn't bother to ask, either), he counted out all the change from his man-purse and under-tipped, got freaked out when some guy on the way into the restaurant whistled at me, wanted to hit some painfully hip and trendy bar afterwards for a nightcap (with his ugly man-purse), and tried to invite himself up afterwards. He was my hair stylist's nephew and he made a point of showing up at the salon every time I had an appointment. Never again. And I had to find a new hairstylist.

to meet and date in l.a., 33 1/3 (mostly all new stories)

For this week's LA Insight, the topic is dating in Los Angeles.

3. Your worst first date?
I forget where we went for dinner, but I remember things were going well. Afterwards, we went to a Laker game (great seats). Shortly after half-time as people were headed back to their seats, a beautiful black girl walked past us. Everyone around us stopped what they were doing to watch her walk past. I am sure my mouth was slack and agape in awe. She was stunning. I turned to him to say, "Ohmygod, she's gorgeous." He had this look on his face like he just smelled something bad. He replied, unconvincingly, "She's okay." Maybe he was just being polite? No such luck. He continued, "It's just that when I was in prison, it was always the black guys who started shit." Stunned silence. Did I mention that his voice carried? Why was he still talking? As others around us turned to see what asshole said that and who the hell would go out with him, I prayed for the earth to open up - and swallow him whole. I don't remember the rest of the date. I couldn't get home fast enough.

to live and date in l.a., part deux

For this week's LA Insight, the topic is dating in Los Angeles. Onward:

2. Best place to take your first date?
I rock at first dates. Sadly, not too many people have rocked me on the first date. I've had some good first dates here:

Tiki Ti (I was maced here once)
Casa del Mar
Gallery Bar - Biltmore Hotel (my "man-map" owes much to this bar)

Toi on Sunset & Gardner (snag the bed table and go with a rockstar)
Water Grill (get the cheese plate)
Ivy at the Shore (champagne with raspberries, candlelight & the Pacific - sigh)
Theme Restaurant at LAX (pretend you're on your way to Prague)
Monsieur Marcel at Farmer's Market
Engine Co. No. 28
Diaghilev in the Bel Age Hotel (the tray of infused vodka that came with the meal might have had something to do with it)
Hollywood Canteen (very OG Hollywood)
Checkers (luxurious & sexy, like my date)

Other good times:
The Getty Museum
House of Blues

One of my best first dates was truly amazing. Al Jarreau was recording his live album, Tenderness, in a studio in Los Angeles. He was recording it over a period of five consecutive nights, seating was arranged in the studio, and I forget which night we went (I attended three of the five nights - heaven), but it impressed the hell out of my date. His musical director was Marcus Miller and the band was made up of Joe Sample(!!!), Steve Gadd, Paulinho Da Costa, Paul Jackson Jr. and David Sanborn.

I met Mr. Jarreau a few months earlier. When most musicians are introduced to me, almost without fail, they riff on my name. Usually they sing the Simon and Garfunkel song, "Cecilia", changing it to "Celia". Not Mr. Jarreau. He took my hand and sang a madrigal song called, "To Celia" which doesn't mention my name once. I didn't think anybody else in Los Angeles knew the song, everyone else in the room had no idea what was going on. But Mr. Jarreau and I did. He made a fan for life that day. Not for that, but he did an acoustic set in my office a little later. Such a lucky girl.

to meet and date in l.a.

For this week's LA Insight, the topic is dating in Los Angeles.

1. Best place to meet someone new?
2. Best place to take your first date?
3. Your worst first date?
4. Great date on a budget?
5. And a date with no $$ limit?
6. Ever been on a blind date? How did it go?
7. Your most memorable dating experience (good, bad or ugly)?
8. Is there romance in Los Angeles?

I have a lot to say here, so I'll dedicate a post to each question.

1. Best place to meet someone new?
Although everyone seems to agree that online is the best place to meet new, I don't know. In a moment of weakness I took the eHarmony profile (a break-up right before the holidays has a funny way of bringing you to your knees) and I have to say I'm so underwhelmed by what I've seen so far. All the guys seem nice enough, but they kinda sorta come off sounding like saps. I asked many girlfriends to review my personality profile results as well as the guys who were a "match" for me and they all agreed: not only do the guys give the impression of being saps, but so do I. Months earlier another friend convinced me to take a personality profile on another online dating service, OKCupid. I did it because his results were hilarious and dead on. I wanted to know what my profile would say and not necessarily for dating purposes. There is a huge difference between what eHarmony believes to be true and what OKCupid had to say about me. I know the truth lies somewhere in-between. So I will stay offline for now.

I have dated guys that I met in restuarants, film screenings, gallery openings, concerts, and dinner parties. Bars, not so much. I used to go to Pete's Cafe on 4th and Main a lot. I've been avoiding it lately because the bartenders there have seen the parade of dates and it is a bit embarrassing. One bartender asked me if I even had a discernible type.

A date took me to Pete's once. He ordered well, we were having a great time, very sexy. Then a guy at the next table started chatting up the both of us. He was nice and friendly, but not overly so. My date mentioned that when I went to the restroom, he was asking him all sorts of questions to ascertain if we were "dating" or if he could take a shot. About halfway through the date, I realized that someone I went out with the previous week was at the end of the bar, watching everything. And so were the bartenders. The friendly guy at the next table cooled down eventually (or so I thought), but when my date brought me home, friendly guy was in the lobby of my building waiting for me with his phone number, and last week's date had already left a message on my voicemail. That was a good night. I have to say that Pete's and Banquette next door are both well-stocked ponds. So is the restaurant at the Arclight Theatre in Hollywood, Creative Screenwriting's film screenings, the rooftop bar and the restaurant at the downtown Standard Hotel, the ALOUD series at the Central Library, Trader Joe's, and Berri's Pizza Cafe (open until 4am and I mean people dancing on tabletops until 4am).

I figure I should just go about my business, do things and go to places where I would normally go, or attend events I'm genuinely interested in. If someone in attendance is attracted to me, we must have some common ground. After all, I don't meet guys at Chili's, Hooters, the multiplex that shows Meet the Fockers and Christmas with the Kranks or whatever lame movie 20x in one day, at the mall, or sitting in the audience of American Idol. Just avoid places where people who drive you nuts hang out. Like the Valley. Or the westside.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

we also barbecue on the roof

But mostly film crews and photographers just like to shoot there.

I don't remember when this was shot, but I remember wanting to stay home that day and tell Natalie Mains how much I loved what she said about GW Bush. If a film crew is going to inconvenience me and my roommates, then I'm glad it was for the ACLU and Natalie Mains.

This is another shot of my roof, another angle and without Natalie. One of my roommates makes a point of watching the sunset every night from our roof. Last night's sunset was beautiful, but I was too lazy to go onto the roof and just watched from my kitchen window while I waited the thirty seconds for my salsa con queso to hit the right temperature for dipping.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

just make it pretty

The good folks at The Metropolitan Transportation Authority are inviting artists working with photographic media to submit proposals for temporary exhibitions to rotate between up to four highly visible locations at Metro Rail stations in Downtown Los Angeles. They will pick four photographers to create light boxes at three sites - two are in the Pershing Square station (that's my station!).

MTA will select seven photographs from the same artist. I'm so jazzed, the only thing I've noticed on the walls of the Pershing Square station are signs that tell me what I can't do - no skateboarding, bike riding, loud music, etc. Alan Nakagawa, senior public arts officer for the MTA, said "It's a big tunnel and hallway that is pretty clean for a public space. But not having anything on the walls, it's very stark," he said. No kidding. Metro commissions artists to incorporate art into the various stations and each of them have a diffent theme: enormous rock sculptures, a yellow brick road, fossils and historic Red Car replicas, a “stellar” sculpture, bird sounds, dancing lights, flying men, industrial angels (my least favorite), concrete living room furniture, butterfly benches, etc. They offer art tours every first Saturday and Sunday of the month.

Photo light boxes are already at the Wilshire/Normandie station and in addition to the Pershing Square boxes, additional boxes are being installed at the Vermont/Beverly station. Each artist’s work will be displayed for approximately one year at each of the four sites. Artists participating in the program have included Robbert Flick, Eileen Cowin, Charles LaBelle, Andrew Glickman, Walter Martin, Paloma Muñoz and Paul Groh.

Selected artists will receive $5,000 and the works will be exhibited for up to one year. Submission deadline is March 11. For details, pictures of existing light boxes at other stations, visit The MTA web site. Questions? Call (213) 922-4278 or email Alan Nakagawa.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

4am and i see hawks in l.a.

I'm not talking about the band. I really do see hawks in L.A. Well, one hawk. He hangs out across the street from the penthouse. It is amazing to see him swoop and take out a pigeon or two, and we have quite a few pigeons in my neighborhood so he provides hours of endless entertainment. The other week during a break in the rain at about 4am, my roommate and I were up (don't ask) and he snapped this picture of the hawk across the street, ready for breakfast. how cool is that?

But you should check out the band. They have a residency at Cole's, one of my favortie downtown bars. Every Wednesday night, one of the best rooms to hear a band play acoustic gets filled up with kids from USC, eager to hear I See Hawks In L.A. play. Despite that, I will be heading over to Cole's in a few hours to hear them play with special guest Mike Stinson. Also, it is the proprietor Ali's birthday, so it should be especially festive.

This is me with one of the regulars and one of my favorite people, Allan. The year next to our names in the picture below refer to the year we achieved "regular" status at Cole's.

I was checking out the pictures of the regulars on the Cole's website and I had no idea who those people were. Most of the real regulars tend to be guest bartenders and live within stumbling distance of Cole's, usually across the street. That's convenient. My sister is on the guest bartender page on the Cole's website. She says that Cole's is "where the men are slow and the women are fast". So true.

For a while I resisted the siren call of Cole's. Mainly because this really annoying group of people started hanging out there, and when I say annoying, I mean really really fucking annoying people (RRFAP). They'd have to be to drive me away from Cole's, even temporarily. And I couldn't blame them because Cole's is a truly great dive bar in the historical and the hipster sense. And i had a small part in the RRFAP's decision to congregate there. So yes, I do lay part of the blame on my own feet. But wonderful Ali didn't care for the ringleader, the Georeg W. Bush if you will, of the RRFAP and didn't care if she knew it, so now it is safe to return. Well, somewhat.

I still run into the GWB of the RRFAP from time to time, hell, she lives on my street. The last time I said more than two words to her, it was at Cole's. I was trying to avoid her, she was confrontational and wanted to know why I didn't want to be her friend any more. How do you tell someone that she is to friends what Ashlee Simpson is to good music? I refused to have that conversation with her, especially at Cole's, but she followed me into the ladies' room. I thought my eyes were going to get stuck at the top of my head. Who does that? Chase after someone who obviously doesn't want to talk to you? Who does that? Chicks like that give all chicks a really bad name, you know what I mean? So yes, I went into the restroom just to avoid her, I didn't really need to be there. But I wished so badly for a bowel movement just so I could take a big loud stinky dump to drive her away. No such luck. A really really stupid guy wearing a NYFD hat followed us into the restroom to break up the "fight". I asked him if he was in law enforcement or the fire department. He said no, so I asked him why he thought he had any sort of authority over me and what I did in the freakin' ladies' room. I came to my senses when he hesitated and started to say, "Uhhh..." so I cut him off, "then step off you fucking poser with your NYFD hat. You think you're a fucking hero because you bought a t-shirt?" Channeling that fast food guy in Half Baked, I continued, "Fuck you," and turning to her, "fuck you, fuck the both of you!" Did I order a side of drama with my Spaten? Nope. But there it was, following me into the ladies' room.

But like I said, it is safe to go back now. And they always put on such a great show.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

i think i'll stay

Sometimes I can't believe I've lived in downtown Los Angeles for this long. I have been living in this space, the penthouse, for a little over seven years, but I've been living in downtown Los Angeles since 1991. I did take a little break around 1995, but trust me, I was miserable.

We used to throw really big, really fun, and really expensive parties here. I don't remember which party this one was, but this is part of my roof, the part we see from the living room.

I used to throw parties fairly regularly, maybe 3 or 4 times a year, I don't remember. I would come up with a wacky name for a shindig, we'd register the URL, get posters and invites designed, throw up the website, and we had a party on our hands in no time. When the powers that be allowed longer domain names, we threw a party to celebrate and of course we had to pick a really long name, as close to 63 characters as we could. I tried to hit 63 exactly, I don't remember if I did. I don't remember the name, I think it was "Rooftop Circus Sex Porno Pussy Fuckfest at the Pimphaus". I know, we were so literal and lacked imagination.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

filmmaker's code of conduct


TO OUR COMPANIES: Filming on location generally means utilizing property that is someone else’s house, store, etc., or a public street, sidewalk or other facility. Production company personnel are guests in such places, and are obligated to conduct themselves as such, and treat the public and the location with courtesy. It should not be expected that everyone in the surrounding environment will alter their lives to accommodate the needs of film production. If we do not all work toward improving our relationship with the local communities in which we work, more production will leave Southern California, resulting in fewer jobs for all.

TO THE PUBLIC: If your find this production company is not adhering to the Filmmaker’s Code of Professional Responsibility, please call FilmL.A. at 213-977-8600. If calling after normal business hours, you will still be able to report your concerns to a FilmL.A. staff member .

The Filmmaker's Code of Professional Responsibility will be attached to every permit, and must be shown to any member of the public who asks.

Production companies arriving on location in or near a residential neighborhood should enter the area no earlier than the time stipulated on the permit, and park one by one, turning engines off as soon as possible. Cast and crew must observe designated parking areas.

When production passes that identify employees are issued, every crew member must wear the pass while at the location.

Moving or towing vehicles is prohibited without the express permission of the municipal jurisdiction or the vehicle owner.

Production vehicles may not block driveways without the express permission of the municipal jurisdiction or the driveway owner.

Meals must be confined to the area designated in the location agreement or permit. Individuals must eat within the designated meal area. All trash must be disposed of properly upon completion of the meal.

Removing, trimming and or cutting of vegetation or trees is prohibited unless approved by the owner, or in the case of parkway trees, the local municipality and the property owner.

All catering, crafts service, construction, strike and personal trash must be removed from the location.

All signs erected or removed for filming purposes will be removed or replaced upon completion of the use of the location, unless stipulated otherwise by the location agreement or the permit.

When departing the location , all signs posted to direct the company to the location must be removed.

Noise levels should be kept as low as possible. Generators should be placed as far as practical from residential buildings. Do not let engines run unnecessarily.

All members of the production company should wear clothing that conforms to good taste and common sense. Shoes and shirts must be worn at all times.

Crew members must not display signs, posters or pictures that do not reflect common sense and good taste.

Cast and crew are to remain on or near the area that has been permitted. Do not trespass onto a neighboring resident's or merchant's property.

Cast and crew must not bring guests or pets to the location, unless expressly authorized in advance by the production company.

Designated smoking areas must be observed, and cigarettes must always be extinguished in butt cans.

Cast and crew must refrain from using lewd or offensive language within earshot of the general public.

Cast and crew vehicles parked on public streets must adhere to all legal requirements unless authorized by the film permit.

Parking is prohibited on both sides of public streets unless specifically authorized by the film permit.

The company must comply with the provisions of the permit at all times.