Thursday, June 30, 2005

sleep eludes me

I haven't slept a full night since Saturday. This is breaking my record of three days with no sleep. Does a two-hour nap count? I didn't think so. Usually I don't have a problem with my insomnia - I can use the time to read or write. After reading the same sentence over and over for 20 minutes, I gave up. Around 4am Monday morning I tried blogging about Saturday night, just to get the taste of blood. Even though I had a great time at Jim's birthday at the Hollywood Roosevelt, I couldn't write anything except, "I had a great time at Jim's birthday party at the Hollywood Roosevelt this past Saturday." Scintillating. Obviously that didn't work and I didn't post jack. I shut down my computer and zoned out watching a movie that dares to ask, "What happens when the world stops caring?" While I didn't stay up because I was contemplating that particular question, it didn't help. Maybe I should add Snow Falling On Cedars to my Netflix queue. A friend told me that it is such a yawn-fest it should be retitled Watching Paint Dry.

I drove Laura and James to the hospital on Monday morning. Instead of staying at the hospital and waiting out her surgery in those super-comfortable chairs (not), I went back home to catch a few hour's sleep before I had to return to pick them up and drive them back downtown. No such luck. Neither sleep nor words came to me.

Tuesday night - I was still wide awake and pretty upset about it. My astrologer and the winner of a Pat Benatar look-alike contest said they were taking me to watch Batman Begins at the Laemmle in Pasadena. I saw pictures of a shirtless Christian Bale somewhere online earlier in the day, so I felt my spirits rise. We scored TV parking on Colorado and got to the theater just in time. Unfortunately for us, they were experiencing technical difficulties and had to cancel that night's scheduled screenings. We consoled ourselves with patatas bravas, lamb empanadas and many caipirinhas at Bar Celona (wonderful tapas bar). My strategy was to drink a lot and then fall asleep from exhaustion. That didn't work either. So, no Batman and no sleep.

Wednesday morning found me driving my roommate to LAX at the height of morning rush hour traffic. Thanks to the HOV lane, it was a breeze getting there. The solo ride back downtown was not. The tedium of bumper to bumper traffic and morning drive-time radio usually causes me to nod off, but not this time. The rest of the day was spent with Laura, so naps weren't really an option, even if I could sleep.

Wednesday night found me at Truly Acoustic Night at Cole's, with the always amazing I See Hawks in LA. The place was packed and there were a few regulars were scattered throughout the room. Said a few hellos, but otherwise went straight to the back room and found seats. They sounded great, but I was disappointed that they didn't play all my favorite songs, specifically, Humboldt, The Beautiful Narcotic Place I Reside, and I See Hawks In L.A. So no Humboldt, Narcotic or Hawks - and at 4:12am, still no sleep.

Tomorrow will be another full day. I'll be spending the day with Laura again. I somehow have to remember how her feeding tube and that hanging bag thing works - difficult to do even when I've had eight hours of sleep. We'll see how I do on two hours over four days. Laura is looking so much better now that she has the more permanent feeding tube that goes directly to her stomach instead of the nasal tube. She was watching television when I showed up yesterday and she muted it so I could regale her with stories of my love life. It was good to see her chuckle (she can't laugh), but I asked if my comedic tales of romantic anguish caused her any physical pain. She still can't talk, but she nodded yes. To clarify, she scribbled, "I'm really out of it, but I have to be. So no excitement." So she turned the sound back on and I realized she was watching The Eagles Farewell Tour Concert. Laura started channel surfing and I told her that if she couldn't have excitement, she should change channels back to the Eagles. She chuckled again, then caught herself, frowned and shook her finger at me. Oh yeah, no excitement + no laughing = less pain, and for me - still no sleep.

Friday, June 24, 2005

secret society

I spent yesterday afternoon checking out a few art galleries on the westside with Craig. By the time I made my way back downtown, I was ready for a drink. We headed to The Broadway Bar for a preview (it opens tonight), courtesy of my friend, who I think I'll blogname Kitty. Kitty is on the steering committe of a "societe anonyme" based in downtown Los Angeles. They're looking to update their stodgy image, so Kitty is reaching out to a younger and hipper crowd. Sort of like why Prince Charles grooved on Princess Di back in the day. So there we were, wondering if we'd wind up in a fiery car crash, but hoping we'd have a good time .

There were four reasons I wanted to hit the shindig: 1) check out the bar before the hoi polloi swarm it; 2) find out more about this secret society; 3) watch the relighting of the Eastern Columbia Building's Gothic-influenced clock tower; and 4) all you can drink champagne.

The crowd wasn't very friendly but the barstaff was, the food looked great but wasn't particularly tasty, Cedd Moses isn't the most charismatic host, but that's okay because Tom Gilmore was in the house and he's got enough charm for the whole damn building. The space is nice enough, I like the balcony on the 2nd floor. But the layout, the decor, the lighting, the setup - it was okay, but it wasn't blowing my skirt up. Before heading upstairs for the free champagne and other cocktails, we sat at the bar downstairs for one round of pricey drinks and to check out the very conservative crowd. We looked everywhere but didn't see Kitty anywhere. Slowly, our crowd made its way downtown and into the party - Adrienne from LAist, Gabrielle from Single Shot, and Jim from UglyTown.

So how secret can a secret society be if they have a publicist? As I worked the room, I asked around, but I didn't meet one person at the shindig who would cop to belonging to this society. I decided to drink a glass of champagne for everyone I chatted up who isn't a member of the society. Kitty was still nowhere to be found. I met a few members of the Los Angeles Athletic Club, they were nice enough, but I couldn't help but feel like they were wondering who the hell invited us and what the hell to say next. I wandered over to the downstairs bar and found Jim and Gabrielle talking to a couple whose names I forget. They mentioned that they didn't know many of the people in the crowd either, they were looking for LAAC members. Jokingly, I said, "Just look for the most boring people in the crowd, they're probably members." I didn't know at the time that they just recently joined the LAAC. I think they knew I was just kidding, they didn't seem upset.

I heard something about some sort of ceremony or something to celebrate the relighting of the clock tower, but I think we were all too drunk to care. I was already on the balcony, so I looked across the street and up, sure enough, the clock tower was lit. The crowd was winding down, the champagne was all gone and I had almost given up hope of spotting Kitty, when finally, the crowd parted - and there was Kitty. She asked if we had enough, I showed her my purse crammed with business cards and phone numbers, and she asked, "Anybody cute?" There were a few, so I nodded. "Anybody worth staying here for?" I made a face, so she said, "Then let's go to Cole's!" We said our goodbyes, decided not to give our information cards to the "secret society" publicist, and off we went to the best damn bar downtown.

violence in the streets of downtown?

I'm not currently in the penthouse, but a few blocks away in a building that overlooks Los Angeles Street. About a half-hour ago, I heard loud noises on the street below, louder than the usual cacophony of street sounds. I hear men yelling in Spanish, several cars honking, then screeching to a halt. I look out the window just in time to see a dozen to fifteen guys running into the middle of the street, brandishing crowbars, pipes, and/or thick chains and yelling at each other in Spanish. This was no fistfight, by the way these men were brandishing their "weapons", it looked like a bloody throwdown was breaking out in the middle of a downtown street.

I hear sirens and some guys head for the sidewalk, with the rest giving chase. Not a good time to be walking down Los Angeles Street. The people on the sidewalks are either stopped, staring, or running into stores for safety. Four police cars whizz past, heading south on Los Angeles. I hear a familiar thud-thud-thud, look up, and see a police helicopter, circling.

I think for a second about running downstairs to get a better look, but I'm with my sister. She just took two tabs of morphine and I don't want to leave her alone. Besides, it's time for her feeding. So we both stand by the window, eager to see if any action will take place in front of her building while the liquid makes its way through her feeding tubes.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

more tubes

The last time someone stood over me and said, "Swallow, swallow, swallow...", let's just say there weren't three other fully-clothed people in the room.

Yesterday, the nurse inserted a temporary feeding tube into my sister. I couldn't watch, not fully. I had to keep looking away. I don't know why, it's just another tube. I think Laura is now down to 80 pounds. We went to my parent's house this past Sunday for Father's Day and even though I warned my family, the shock of seeing her so thin really hit them hard. But this feeding tube will help immensely.

James, Laura's husband just called a few minutes ago. The nurse was back again today, re-inserting the feeding tube. Laura was sleepwalking again last night and she pulled out the tube. She's okay now, but on Monday she's getting a different tube, one that she can't pull out, either accidentally or in a morphine-aided sleepwalking fit.

I have to go out today and can't hang out with my sister today. Even though I know she's not alone, that James is there, I don't like not being there.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

trash and heat

Saturday night was a double-bill of Paul Morrissey’s Trash and Heat at the Egyptian Theatre. My roommate grew up in Factory-era New York City and is a big fan of Joe Dallesandro. There was a Q&A in between the film and Mr. Dallesandro was signing copies of his book, so despite the gazillion things going on in Los Angeles on Saturday night, we had to be there. We took the metro and although we missed our train by minutes, we eased into our seats in plenty of time. I’d never seen any of the trilogy (I missed the Flesh screening the night before) but I was glad to at least see these two.

If you're not familiar with Trash, you've got some time to steel yourself for the DVD release in November. Trash, the story of a junkie made impotent by drugs, is full of pickle shots, nudity, and simulated (?) blow jobs. The best scene in the film belongs to Holly, when she beats off with a beer bottle because her sexual companion is too much of a junkie to get it up. Non-stop hilarity. Some scenes reminded me of The Brown Bunny and the lead actress, Holly Woodlawn, reminds me of Lauren Ezersky from Behind the Velvet Ropes. Speaking of The Brown Bunny, after seeing these two films, I am even more fully convinced that Vince Galliano is an obnoxious, talentless, derivative hack.

During the intermission, Little Joe answered questions and talked a little bit about what it was like during those crazy days at The Factory and what it was like to work with and be around Paul Morrissey and Andy Warhol. I wish I could say that he was just as sexy and beautiful now as he was years ago, but that would be a lie. Firstly, thirty-five years later, he doesn’t even look like the same person. When he walked out to the front of the theatre, I was still scanning the line of people streaming into the theater, looking for Little Joe. Then he stood there with the moderator at the center of the theatre and I wished that I had a camera. No wonder I didn’t recognize him, I didn't know to look for someone who looks like Rosie O’Donnell. Secondly, I wish I could say that he was a spellbinding raconteur with great stories of those wild days, but that would also be a lie. He was so quiet and seemed so guarded, it was almost like pulling teeth getting him to answer questions. After the Q&A, my roommate stood in line in the lobby so he could get a signed copy of his book, Little Joe, Superstar: The Films of Joe Dallesandro.

The second film, Heat, is a parody of Sunset Boulevard. It spoofs the casual sexual adventures of a one-time child actor in Hollywood who sleeps with his landlady to reduce his rent, a washed-up actress who can't introduce him to anyone who can help his career, and her sometime-lesbian daughter. Not enough for you? Two brothers in the film have a live sex act and one brother wears clogs, knee-high socks and a white dress while he masturbates poolside.

With all the remakes clogging the Hollywood pipeline, why isn't anyone looking to remake these films?

saturday with julius

Saturday morning I dragged my ass out of bed and down to the Arclight/Dome for the Los Angeles Conservancy Annual Meeting. Although there were many good reasons to be in attendance, I was there to see Julius Shulman.

We settled into our seats just as the meeting started. I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open, even through David Ulin’s wonderful slide lecture. Tim Wride, former associate curator of the Photography Department of LACMA, moderated the panel and was really good at throwing softballs at the panelists. I understand that this is a very political event, what with the LA Conservancy and all, but the whole thing was a boring, predictable circle jerk with sunshine being blown into, um, normally dark places, until a question was asked of Julius Shulman.

I don't remember what the question was, and it doesn't really matter, because Mr. Shulman didn't bother answering it. Maybe he was annoyed with Tim Wride (as I was) for addressing him as "Julius". Tim started the question with, "So Julius, I have to ask..." and immediately I was put off by his familiarity. In my mind I heard a smarmy, "So Julius, baby, J.J., how you doing?" Jeez man, have some respect. He is something like forty years older than you, an icon of modern photography, and you are definitely not one of his contemporaries, so call him Mr. Shulman unless he instructs you to do otherwise.

Mr. Shulman prefaced his answer by saying, "Democracy is a precious thing..." and the crowd, eager for nuggets of wisdom from this legend, sort of eased back to hear what was shaping up to be a lecture of sorts as he spoke of the forces that came together to put this book of photography together. They were jolted forward in their seats with, "But I think this book is crap." I heard the gasp go through the audience, but the panelists stayed silent and poker-faced. I looked around the room and the look on everyone's face told me we were wondering the same thing - what did he just say? Did he just say this book is crap?

Mr. Shulman really opened it up, he spoke of the editorial vision behind this book and questioned it. My spirits rose, could this actually become a lively discussion rather than a thinly-veiled publicity event? The panel was still stunned and silent as Mr. Shulman wrapped up his answer. No one lept to the book's defense and it must have been very uncomfortable up on that panel, but I was enjoying it immensely. Tim Wride tried to recover, but it was obvious he was trying to gently address the bomb that Mr. Shulman just dropped and work it into his carefully scripted question directed at Craig Krull.

After what seemed like another eternity of silence, Craig Krull leaned into the microphone and said, "That's not the question you said you were going to ask me." Oh excuse me, I thought we were going to a panel discussion, not to hear a series of prepared statements. Can't you at least pretend some of this is extemporaneous? Krull managed to get something blathery out, then he launched into his prepared, um, answer, "I do have something else to say..." I guess he had to get his prepared statement out there, even if it had very little to do with anything that had been said up to 20 minutes earlier. Wride then had a follow-up softball question and I don't have the exact words or remember to whom it was directed, but the gist of it was, "Let me jack you off..."

Wride did ask Ben Stiller a question, which he promptly ignored and said instead, "Julius, let me thank you for your ringing endorsement of this book." This was getting better every minute. Stiller went on to say that Julius Shulman is who he credits with his love for photography and Los Angeles. He tried to defend the editorial vision of the book, citing the process and noting some of his favorite pictures. To which Mr. Shulman replied, "This book is crud..." and referring to the book as, "... this so-called book is a Would Could Should." Then to the audience, "What is wrong with these people? That's your favorite picture? Big deal, everyone has steps, those in that picture need to be cleaned off." After the gasps subsided somewhat, he added, "Yech, that's crap."

Wride opened it up to audience to ask questions. The first two men who stood up didn't have questions, they just had long-winded, masturbatory commments. Blah blah blah, no one cares and the only thing that came through was how much these guys love the sound of their own voice. Finally, my friend got up and asked the first question, "Mr. Shulman, will you still be available and willing to sign copies of the book afterwards?" To which he replied, "Of course! I have many photographs in the book." Mr. Shulman did mention that he has another book coming out soon, and I'm sure he feels much better about the editorial vision of that book.

We went to the Arclight Gallery for the book signing. While waiting for them to set up, we took a look at some of the photographs displayed on all floors and also to take a look at the book. I was thinking of getting a copy of the book signed and giving it to my dad for Father's Day. But I was so disappointed with the print quality (among other things) that I decided not to. The Los Angeles Conservancy is getting a portion of the proceeds from the book, so I do feel bad about that, but no way I'm throwing down $80 for a book that Julius Shulman thinks is crap.

Monday, June 20, 2005

weekend wrap-up: friday

Eased into Friday night by wrapping up work on that photography book. Craig and I put away a bottle of wine and I was pink-faced by the time Ping showed up, announcing her hunger and asking when we could leave and eat Korean. Unfortunately, on the way to K-Town and Tofu House, the cops pulled us over. One of his headlights was out.

The cop on the passenger side asked us to roll down our windows so he could see what Ping and I were doing (windows are tinted dark). I saw his shoulders relax a little and he’s chatting us up, asking if this was our neighborhood, where we were headed, etc. His partner is running our plates, so it’s just him and the three of us in the car. I saw Craig’s back stiffen up when he heard the cop tell me “I like working at night. I like night people, the wild and crazy people,” but he didn’t turn around. Craig and Ping exchange looks, then I see Craig bracing for what’s coming next. Uh-oh, here it comes. The cop starts flirting. And his rap is lame. But I didn't react the way you think a drunken Celia would react when some buster laying a lame rap is standing between her and a bulgogi/soon tofu combination. He was LAPD after all, and I do know when to behave.

After what felt like an hour, we were on our way to tofu. Craig said he was worried I’d gone too far, “I thought he was going to make you get out and do a sobriety test, touch your nose, walk the line and everything.”

I was truly puzzled, “Why?”

“When he asked you how often you drink, you said, ‘Only when I’m awake.’ What you don’t remember that? Because it was only about five minutes ago.”

My friends put up with so much.

Friday, June 17, 2005

nothing's changed

I've been spending more time with my sister as she undergoes her second round of chemo. She only lives a few blocks away, but by the time I get home at night, all I feel like doing is sitting down in front of the television and zoning out. I have a stack of things to read, I still have to make notes on a screenplay I read last week, laundry to wash/fold/hang, groceries to shop for, all manner of errands to run and I can't bring myself to do any of it.

After spending the day at my sister's loft, I roamed downtown in search of a decent meal and saw the oddest streetfight on my way home.

I'm walking east on 4th Street, just approaching Spring Street. Two guys are punching each other on the crosswalk, the shorter one yelling, "Stop following me!"

"I ain't following you," said the taller, lanky guy. "I walk wherever I want. Ain't your damn street."

They move onto the sidewalk, southwest corner of 4th and Spring and directly in my path. They've stopped throwing punches, but they're bumping chests, staring each other down and making it difficult for me to decide which side of the sidewalk I'll commit to walking.

"I said stop following me!"

They continue to walk down Spring Street, stopping every few minutes to launch a few punches, push each other, bump chests and yell. They're taking up all of the sidewalk and even if I follow behind them, I eventually catch up to them and am forced to watch as they commandeer the entire sidewalk with their streetfight, unable to move past them.

I consider walking in the street and take a look behind me to gauge oncoming street traffic. Although it is almost sunset, there is too much street traffic, but not enough pedestrian traffic for me to feel comfortable walking alongside a traveling streetfight. I stop at a cluster of newspaper dispensaries and read the headlines, waiting until they take their streetfight past me and my destination.

Looking down the street at the corner of 5th and Spring, I scan the block, noting all the construction at the El Dorado and Rowan buildings. The neighborhood is changing, but the characters on the street aren't cooperating. At the end of the street, I see the voodoo woman on the corner of 6th and Spring, sitting on the curb, cursing the cars driving by. Closer to me, Preacher Man is folding up his Bible, getting ready to call it a day.

The light changes as I approach the corner of 5th and Spring and from out of nowhere, they appear - the two streetfighters. From around the corner on 5th, the short one barrels past me and onto the crosswalk, heading east on 5th, yelling over his shoulder, "Stop following me, motherfucker!"

The tall one is on his heels, pushing up against his back, "I ain't following you."

They continue pushing, shoving, yelling, and punching as they walk. I can't stop watching as they make their way halfway down the block and away from me. The security guard on duty in front of Charley O's watches the drama along with me and everyone else on the street corner. I say hi as I walk past and gesturing to the streetfighters, he offers, "They were having the same exact argument last week."

Thursday, June 16, 2005

felt that one, too

I should get dressed. If my body is going to be found in the rubble of what was once the corner of 5th and Spring, I should have clothes on. This robe isn't staying put in a freefall. I can't tell if the rolling is still the earthquake or the 100+ year old building I'm in swaying before it snaps in half three floors below me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

we get email

My weekend was a little less rambunctious than usual, but I didn't think I'd receive a complaint:

Dear Celia,

I was very disappointed that there were no overdoses at our event at the Formosa Cafe in Hollywood this past Saturday... please remit and explain why you could not provide us with these, Celia. They were an explicit requirement of the production staff. I counted during the wrap and there were absolutely zero OD's all evening. We thought you would be responsible for supplying the necessary talent and props to reconcile these production expectations with the reality of a straight-edged westside crowd. You came highly recommended and we feel that this referral may now be in question. Again, we would appreciate an explanation to the contrary.

Kind Regards,

NAME OMITTED (we have to protect the PR bunny's identity)
Stratospheric Monkey Productions

I emailed the co-host of the Schmucklerfest, in case there was more action after I left. No response yet. If anybody else was at the Schmucklerfest and have information about the body count for the evening, please leave a comment below (prefer this) or email me.

As for the email above, I didn't realize that it was a condition of my invitation, I don't read the fine print. I hope I don't see a sudden reduction in the number of invites flowing into the penthouse, that would be bad.

monitoring LAX

I discovered this incredibly useful and mesmerizing website, Airport Monitor. Need to find out the ETA for your girlfriend's flight into LAX? How about no-kidding flight location for VIP flight tracking or emergency response? Airport Monitor provides complete, independent, accurate and timely information for airlines, airports and corporate aviation.

The website shows the departing and arriving planes, planes in transit, helicopters, and highlights your flight so you can see where it lines up on the arrivals queue. Clicking on any of the planes will give you the details for that flight and you can either watch in current mode, or rewind to a specific date/time and watch at a variety of accelerated speeds. Careful, this site is spellbinding. I logged on to find some flight information and once accomplished, I stayed, dreamily watching planes arrive and depart LAX in real-time.

I zoomed out to 20 miles and watched the red, green, black and blue planes flit across the map of the greater Los Angeles area. Though not as poetic as watching planes arrive or depart up close, it still gives me a little bit of that wistful feeling from witnessing people at the start or end of a journey.

32nd annual student academy awards

This past Sunday afternoon I forced myself away from the sofa, out the door, and west of La Brea to attend the 32nd Annual Student Academy Awards at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theatre. Founded in 1972 to encourage filmmaking in university students, the Student Academy Awards are the only student film competition sanctioned and sponsored by the Academy. Past winners have included Spike Lee, Trey Parker, and Robert Zemeckis. It figured to be a great place to meet up-and-coming talent, and to see a few interesting films.

I arrived just seconds before they closed the front door. Just as I found my seat on the aisle, the lights dimmed and, unlike the ceremony we watch on television, there was no glitzy opening number and no wise-cracking actor/comedian-turned-host. The program listed Frank Pierson, President of the Academa, as the only speaker, but he didn't show up and sent Executive Director Bruce Davis to deliver the opening remarks instead. Mr. Davis said when they first launched the Student Academy Awards, they modeled it on the ceremony we see on television, but it was so sad to have these kids who were nominated fly out and look so dejected because they didn't win anything. "It's okay to torture professionals," he quipped, "but not kids." That got big laughs. In any case, they changed the awards structure so that student filmmakers weren't invited unless they won a gold, silver or bronze trophy.

One winner in each of the four categories (Narrative, Animation, Alternative, and Documentary) won the gold, Saul Bass-designed trophy and a $5,000 cash grant. The silver and bronze winners received $3,000 and $2,000 respectively and a $1,000 grant was awarded to the Honorary Foreign Filmmaker. All four of the gold-winning films (plus the winning Honorary Foreign Film) were shown after the awards ceremony and clips of the silver and bronze award winners were interspersed throughout the ceremony.

Voice actor June Ferrer and cinematographers Karl Walter Lindenlaub and Caleb Deschanel were called in to hand out awards and introduce young filmmakers. In handing out the documentary awards, Mr. Deschanel defined docs in this way, "They're like Michael Moore films only without Michael Moore." One Animation-category winner mentioned in his acceptance speech that he was glad to see that hand-drawn animation was still alive and kicking. Then June Ferrer announced the winner of the gold trophy in Animation, Shane Acker (of UCLA), and mentioned that his film "9" was computer-generated. This got huge groans from the audience. After an uncomfortable silence, Ms. Ferrer shrugged and said, "Hey, whaddya gonna do?"

A friend asked me earlier today what the main difference was between this ceremony and the one we're used to seeing - the grown-up, slick, big-budget production laden with red carpet coverage, paparazzi, goodie bags and publicity whores. They didn't have any red carpet arrivals, paparazzi, goodie bags or whores, it wasn't slick at all, and they're given all the time in the world to accept their awards. But mainly, these filmmakers were very young and hadn't yet grown bitter, jaded and/or cynical. And parents were still in shell-shock from having to finance their budding Spielberg's 30-minute short.

My favorite Hollywood/Not Hollywood moment came when one young filmmaker approached the podium to accept his award. At first very cavalier and nonchalant, he swaggered past June Ferrer and said glibly, "I love your shoes, June." Then he looked out into the audience, realized where he was, and stammered, "I practiced this in the shower, but now I'm drawing a blank." He then started weeping and whimpering as he launched into his thank you speech. Not just tears of joy or a catch in the throat, but openly weeping. He turned away from the microphone, then continued to cry and finally he bent over, covered his face in his hands and was wracked by sobs. A gasp rose up from the crowd. It was horrifying to watch, I wondered if someone was going to take him and lead him off the stage, wailing. But then he raised his head and the trophy, and cried out, "Roger Smith - thanks for the money." Touching.

The best film of the evening was one that I'd already seen. Alfonso Mayo's "Wednesday Afternoon" was featured on Not So Foreign Filmmaker's Showcase on SiTV last month. Starring Traffic's dreamy Jose Yenque, Mayo's film was a very sophisticated, tight little film that was a very effective calling card.

Also noteworthy was "Frog", a hand-drawn animated short by Christopher Conforti. This short elicited the strongest response, not just from the cleverly drawn animation, but because it showed a teenager trying to shit out a frog.

Here's the complete list of nominess, gold-medal winners listed below.

Gold-Medal Winners:
“Knock Knock,” Jaron Henrie-McCrea, Ball State University, Indiana
“9,” Shane Acker, University of California, Los Angeles
“The Life of Kevin Carter,” Dan Krauss, University of California, Berkeley
“Wednesday Afternoon,” Alonso F. Mayo, American Film Institute, Los Angeles

Monday, June 13, 2005

the weekend started on wednesday

I was having a rough week. My friends decided I needed a break.

Liz took me wig-shopping. I talked to my brother, that always makes me feel better. And two of my favorite people took me away from downtown Los Angeles to Naz 8 in Artesia to see my favorite Indian film set in the 16th Century, Mughal-E-Azam. Although the film is available on DVD in the 85% black and white, 15% color version, I've only seen the version showing in theaters - the fully-colorized, restored, and re-edited version.

Ping couldn't make it, she was reading about wine for work. Bollywood Film Expert had seen the film countless times and this was the first-ever viewing for Craig. We were the only three in the theater, which is a crying shame, but we took full advantage of it. There is so much eye candy in this film, I was glad for the chance to see it again. Whatever we missed, Film Expert explained to us in mostly reverential tones. Sometimes he screamed his film commentary, but mostly it was a great screening and simultaneous film lecture. Since we were the only three people in the theater, we didn't bother to switch our cell phones to vibrate. Film Expert took calls during the film, but he didn't skip a beat. He explained to some callers where we were in the film, or they got commentary on what Craig's or my reaction was to a scene. We dissected more during the intermission, and so it went on for the last part of the film.

We ended the night at Guppy's New Corner Teahouse in Cerritos. At first we were oohing and aahing at the foot-tall shaved ice, dripping with fruit and sweetened condensed cream, encasing ice cream and topped with whipped cream, but coming down from a sugar high on the 91 Freeway at 2am would be bad, so none of us indulged. We didn't even have boba. I had the usual spicy dumplings and mixed fruit tea, and pointed out other favorites to the other two. This was the first-Asian-teahouse-in-Los Angeles experience for both of them and they were lapping it up. There was a lot to look at besides the art on the walls, the exotic fish in the aquariums scattered throughout the space, and the insane desserts being carried past us. It was a large and very attractive crowd (and when I say attractive I mean hot), dressed for a good time on a Saturday night, never mind that it was 2am Thursday morning. But damn there were a lot of hot Asian chicks in the room. Good times. Despite all the distractions my friends were throwing my way, my head was still full of the bad week I was having. I slept maybe three hours that night - a knotted-up, jaw-clenching, tense ball of worrisome sleep.

Thursday was the Downtown Art Walk. I try to visit more galleries than the previous month's artwalk, but fell short this month. It might have something to do with the dozen champagne cocktails we drank at Banquette, not sure though. I didn't enjoy this artwalk as much as past artwalks, but I think it reflects more on the week taking its toll on me, and less on the artwork. We hit Cole's for a few more drinks, then to Rocket Pizza, my new favorite downtown eatery, then back to the penthouse to finish the rest of the vodka. We laughed and joked for the rest of the night and my good friends helped as much as they could, but it was another sleepless night.

Friday was chill. Film Expert came over and we screened Amarpali at the penthouse. I was tired and kept nodding off, but managed to wake up for the song and dance portions. Then when Film Expert left, I stared at the ceiling, unable to sleep.

Saturday was the annual Schmucklerfest at the Formosa Cafe. I RSVP'd for me +5 (I still don't understand why you gave me grief about that Brian), but more came and I was glad that old friends, new friends, and very good friends came out to play and were there for me this past week. Gabrielle of Single Shot and Jim from UglyTown showed up after some museum tour, CraigJasonHelenaVanessa showed up after TV Producer's birthday party, my astrologist showed up minutes before Adrienne and I pulled up, and both Andy and Bob were there to greet us. Somehow we separated and moved to different locations. I don't remember where my astrologer went or with who, but I remember yelling at him on the phone while shaking my groove thang on the dance floor, "We're at Akbar! Where are you?" Later, what the vodka couldn't drown was fed by a Monte Cristo at Brite-Spot. I don't know whether it was excess or exhaustion, but finally I conked out and slept soundly. Until the earthquake woke me.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

improving los angeles mass transit

Is this the future of Metro Rail in Southern California? If this comes to pass, oooh I'd be so happy (click on image for larger picture on Skyscraper City forum).

Image hosted by

(Thanks to 14K on SSC!)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

too slow on the uptake

Aaaack! I was watching the news and I was too slow to change the channel when it ended. Starting Over is the creepiest show ever! Who watches that shit?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

casting call for reality shows

If anyone is interested in being on a reality TV show, here are two more ways to work out your issues in a public arena:

Casting Call: A new series for TLC produced by Evolution USA is seeking families, work groups, couples, pairs, whoever, whose bickering is so bad they can no longer accomplish the simplest of jobs or function efficiently. For instance, two girlfriends are no longer on speaking terms after trying to plan her wedding; a couple can't stop arguing long enough to pick a color to paint the kitchen; an office group is so at odds that work is no longer getting done at all! Casting is kicking off in LA - for info contact Joanna Shapiro at or Rachel Stevens at

Casting Call: LOGO is on the lookout for individuals who would like to come out to their colleagues within the next few months for a new documentary on coming out at work. The program will be included as part of the gay/lesbian network's Momentum series. Contact with name, location, photo (current), telephone number and who you plan on coming out to and why

I'm not involved with either of these projects so I can't offer any inside information. Just helping to get the word out, helping people connect. See how good I am? I just drip sugar.

Monday, June 06, 2005

animal lovers, but no kooks

My laptop was stolen the other week. Then my DSL was down. I knew I wanted to take a break this weekend, but I felt like I was missing something, just not sure what. Then it appeared in my inbox:


Reply to:
Date: 2005-06-05, 11:49AM PDT

Chimp shit tossing fetishist seeks man or woman to role play as caged chimp. I'll be the taunting zoogoer. Shit in your hand and hurl it at my face. I'll scream with shock and delight.

No kooks.

Did I mention how much I love Craigslist? (Thanks to my astrologer, even though I still hate him for Saturday night!)

weekend mop-up

The weekend started on Thursday night with the aforementioned shindig at the Hermes Gallery, but Friday really kicked it into high gear. My lunch with Hollywood hotshot producers was scheduled for 1pm on Friday. It was a little crowded and then again not - one producer couldn't make it because her house slid down a hill in Laguna or something but there was more than one hanger-on there than I would've liked. After lunch we went back to his office and I had some alone time with this guy. I told him about the project I was developing and he expressed interest in getting involved. He had a lot of great advice for me and said that I could always call on him for more helpful advice. Turns out that he is very well acquainted with the only actor (so far) who has signed on to the film that I'm producing. He worked with this actor on the next two films the actor made after said actor's star-making film.

I planned on hitting the Hammer bash Friday night, but my phone was blowing up. Taking all the calls was essential to lining up investors for the film, but the constant interruptions made it impossible to get ready in time to hit that shindig. Not that important and besides, it was west of La Brea. We were meeting hotshot TV producer and entourage at Firecracker at 9pm, so there wouldn't be enough time to go west and be back in time.

We got to Firecracker at the perfect time. Turns out I already met this guy. I was trying to place how I knew him when he said that he knew me from somewhere, that I looked really familiar. It finally hit us how we knew each other - we had friends in common other than the guy who put this meeting together. We all slid into a corner booth just as the jazz combo launched into "All Blues", from Miles Davis' classic, Kind of Blue, one of my all-time favorite albums. Especially appropriate since Oscar Brown Jr. passed away recently and he wrote the lyrics to "All Blues". I'm not sure but I think it starts, "The sea, the sky, and you and I, with all blues, all shades, all hues... "

Friday's Firecracker was in celebration of the relaunch of KDAY, so the place was getting packed. Too packed. TV Producer wanted duck, so we hightailed it out of there and went to Hop Woo for duck and other Chinese dishes. Good stuff. I was the only Asian person at the table but these white boys were conversing in Mandarin (or was it Cantonese? I keep getting them mixed up) and I couldn't chime in to save my life. The waiters thought it hilarious, smirking at me as they served the soup and brought more water for tea.

Saturday's lunch was very un-Hollywood. My aunt and uncle/godfather flew in from Guam to celebrate his 75th birthday and their 50th wedding anniversary. The day was spent surrounded by family, with tons of Asian food and a screening of Kung Fu Hustle. I think there were more people watching it in my parent's living room than when I originally saw it at the midnight screening at the Arclight opening night.

Saturday night was crunchy. My astrologer wanted me to meet him at New Expression's Two Year Anniversary Party. I hadn't heard of them before, but he swore that their Monday night readings were something I wanted to get in on and this was an opportunity to meet the organizers. "They have their readings at some cafe in Hollywood, but their party is downtown, because you know, downtown is cool or something," he said, adding, "Hey, you don't have to drive far, so you have to go." I walked up and recognized the guy at the door. I didn't know his name but he read at the last Poetry Soup. I can't say that I was a fan. He did that sing-songy spoken word thing, waving his arms around as if he were a turntablist and aping def poetry jam. I hate that shit. I immediately got on the cell and called my astrologer, "Where are you? I hate you." He didn't think I was serious. Laughing he replied, "The Alameda offramp is closed, but we're almost there. Don't leave, I swear it'll be worth it."

There was an open bar until 9pm, but they only had beer and wine and I needed vodka or tequila. I stood at the bar, waiting for a glass of lukewarm wine when this guy in an ugly Hawaiian shirt with a paper plate perched on top of his protruding gut said to me, "You're in my way." I looked at the plate of warm cheese and the plastic container of veggies in front of me. I tried to be nice and said smilingly, "Can I pass something to you?" He replied, "No, I'll just go around you." As he moved around me, I moved the plate right in front of where he once stood. What an asshole.

The party was just down the street from Little Pedro's. I'd been there before, for an Out In Downtown LA Academy Awards viewing party. I should've gone to their birthday party at the Hellman instead. There were all these faux hippies dancing around a fake tree fashioned out of old newspapers. Astrologer was obsessing over some bozo in a hat. I was considering cutting my losses and cutting out, but L called. He was downtown, he had a script for me, and he wanted a beer. Then the Pat Benatar look-alike called on the astrologer's cell, she just got off work and wanted to join in the fray. Misery loves company so I gave them both directions and decided to tough it out. I went back inside. Earlier one guy told me that he was a "shamedian", a shaman and comedian. I almost did a spit-take. I don't get enough credit for my remarkable restraint. The "shamedian" was onstage doing something awful with two other guys. I think they were going for comedy but it wasn't funny, just painful.

L and the Pat Benatar look-alike showed up, so we ordered more beer and reassessed the situation. It still sucked. I didn't care, I had my script. So we headed for the best Mexican food downtown at Ye Olde Taco House and called it a night.

Sunday was my last chance to hit the LA Art Fest, but I was wiped out. I wanted to go shopping but Sunday isn't the best day to hit the Fashion District. I spent the day reading scripts and making notes instead. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.

looking at los angeles

This past Thursday I went to the book release party at the Hermes Gallery on Rodeo Drive for "Looking At Los Angeles", a collection of photos of Los Angeles edited by Ben Stiller, David L. Ulin, and Marla Hamburg Kennedy. I went with fabulous Los Angeles photographer Craig Havens and Adrienne of the LAist there (thanks again Adrienne!). The timing for this event was perfect. I'm editing Craig's new book of photography, so we spent the afternoon in his Chinatown studio going over prints and then took a break to hit the party.

It was pretty much like every other Rodeo Drive shindig I've attended - Veuve Cliquot and caviar, security guards with headsets at every turn, clipboard-clutching PR bunny, people jockeying for right-side position in front of event photographers, and there is always one woman with an outfit that says she's just trying too damn hard. This party had steely-eyed Armani-clad agent-types chatting up unwashed bobo artsy-types in search of the next hip thing. Or was it the other way around?

Xeni Jardin and Jen Collins were also in attendance at this event and I was glad to finally meet them both. Mack Reed of LA Voice blogs about it, and Xeni blogs about it. The Diane Arbus photo that Xeni posted was the best of the collection, and just like Ben Stiller, reminded me of my own Disney memories. I almost didn't see it because of the setup. There was a multimedia installation on the boutique's third floor where images from this new book of photography was projected onto the walls, but to see each image without someone's head blocking your view, you had to peer down into viewfinders set against the walls. I checked out images from Winogrand, Shulman, and Epstein before giving up on the viewfinders and concentrating on more champagne and caviar. Craig and Adrienne were talking to Xeni Jardin and Jen Collins, they motioned me over so introductions could be made.

Craig pointed out one viewfinder captioned, "<---Diane Arbus" and ordered me to look at it, saying, "This is the best damn photograph in the entire collection." It was annoying to peer down into a viewfinder, but I was glad I did. This is an amazing collection of images of Los Angeles. I love photography and think it should be blown up large, on the walls, and celebrated - not peered at through a viewfinder. I told this guy who chatted me up just that and he said, "Marla is my cousin, I'll have to ask her why they chose to do that." Oops. I told Craig about my faux pas and he sheepishly confessed that he just said the same thing to a woman he didn't know and she said, "Well, thanks for coming to my event, I'm Marla." Double oops.

Proceeds from the book benefit the Los Angeles Conservancy and there's another event promoting the book at the Arclight on June 18th. I'll probably go and wind up offending someone without meaning to again.