Wednesday, July 27, 2005

where the men are slow and the women are fast

It's that time again, tonight is Truly Acoustic Wednesdays at Cole's in downtown Los Angeles - which means you have another chance to check out I See Hawks in L.A.. Mike Stinson opens at 9pm, then the Hawks at 10pm. At 11pm, longtime local legend and LA Weekly's Best Contemporary Blues/R&B Artist Carlos Guitarlos joins them onstage. Last I heard, Ali still hasn't found true love, despite his well-attended divorce party a few weeks ago. Kitty will be bartending tonight as well. Whether for love, or love of music (or Chimay on tap), head on down to Cole's and buy me a drink tonight, dammit!

Monday, July 25, 2005

i attract the lunatic fringe

I caught the Grand Performances Basquiat screening at CalPlaza this weekend. It was such a nice cool evening and a much smaller crowd than I've seen all summer at the Watercourt. I sat next to this guy who kept drinking from his flask throughout the evening. It smelled like whisky, but I didn't ask as I didn't want to encourage more conversation. He was chatty, which I don't have a problem with (as long as it isn't during the movie), but he was really loud. People around us kept turning around to look at him, and although no one shushed him I certaily would have welcomed it. Halfway through the movie, I got a creepy feeling that I was being watched intently. I turned around and he was staring at me instead of the screen. Ugh. He chilled eventually. Later, he offered me a mint, and I didn't take it until after the movie, on the walk home. I conked out as soon as I got home so I think it may have been a roofie. Either that or I was just exhausted.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

best of downtown party

I had the novel opportunity to attend, of all things, Downtown News' Best of Downtown Party this past Tuesday night at the Hotel Figueroa, which gave me a chance to reflect on the changing face of downtown Los Angeles, class conventions, and, of course, popularity contests. Turns out the three seemingly unrelated topics have a good deal in common, each game, if you will, with a clear set of rules, goals to be achieved, and faux pas to be avoided. The party celebrated the newspaper's annual Best of Downtown Issue, which hit the streets yesterday.

I walked into the poolside patio of the Hotel Figueroa with the best of intentions. Then someone handed me a tray full of these blue drinks, which looked so cool and refreshing that I helped myself to more than a few and promptly forgot about everything except enjoying more liquid refreshment, cute boys, and enjoying a sultry evening poolside with my friends Gabrielle, Kitty, and Craig.

Thankfully, my friends had more presence of mind than I did, otherwise I would have been content to sit in the corner of the patio, watch the inauthentic "bellydancer", eat Moroccan food, drink more blue drinks, marvel in the vivid bougainvillea flowers separating the patio from poolside, and watch the crowd suck up to Tom Gilmore.

Kitty was a consumate pro, working the room and pressing the flesh despite the unforgiving heat, my parasol hitting her head at inopportune moments, and the unrestrained and sometimes violent rivulets of sweat streaming from her head. I had almost forgotten that when surrounded by exceedingly corporate people, cocktails can be hard work.

Kitty introduced me to all these people sporting "Winner" ribbons from their nametags. It was interesting, the difference in reactions when I congratulated people on their triumph. Some were embarrassed, some were matter-of-fact, others basked in it. I wondered if the different reactions were an indicator of how hard they worked for that ribbon, whether they felt they deserved it, if they felt it was ultimately meaningless but didn't mind being the beneficiary of that designation. I tried to engage people in conversation more substantial than the usual cocktail chatter, but no one wanted to play. Either that or they just assumed I was a rambling drunk. It didn't occur to me until much later that maybe they just didn't have anything to say.

I didn't win anything, so I asked Kitty (and others) where my "Loser" ribbon was. After all, winners don't feel good unless someone else lost, right? I wanted those winners to feel really good about their win. But there were no "Loser" ribbons to be had, just more blue drinks. Eventually, the crowd dispersed and there were no more blue drinks to be had. I like to think that all the winners went home to their partners and celebrated with champagne and hot, sweaty monkey sex. It's amazing, isn't it, the power of "Winner" stamped in gold on a blue ribbon? That for one night, one can feel as Leonardo DiCaprio's character did on the deck of the Titanic, jubilant and secure in the feeling that he or she was the king or queen of the world.

Friday, July 22, 2005

last saturday night

It had been a long time since there was a party at the penthouse. This past Saturday was nowhere near the size of the shindigs we used to host, but it was nice having people over again.

Saturday was the Create:Fixate 2nd Annual All-Photography Show and Craig Havens was the featured photographer. This wasn't Craig's first show. In 2004 he was the only American honored with a solo exhibition at the Grand Hall Artists Union in St. Petersburg, Russia. This was, however, Craig's first featured exhibit in a group show, premiering Soundings, a series of large format black and white silver gelatin prints, and Opal, a large format C-print, a stunning centerpiece to the seven-piece exhibit. There are 30 images in the series, and while I had seen thumbnails of all the images, Saturday was the first time I saw these beautiful prints on such a large and impressive scale.

You've probably heard a lot about Craig lately, in the past two weeks he's received some media attention and action. And by action I mean he's been selling (three of the prints were pre-sold at the framer and printer)and landing some cool gigs. The venue was not air-conditioned and the really hot, amateurish lighting didn't help matters. One light burned so hot that it cracked the glass on one of the prints. Either that or the work was so powerful that it cracked - oh forget it, that's just cheesy. But despite the heat and the woeful inadequacies of the less than professional staff, Craig's portion of the exhibit was very well attended.

After the Gallery Previews ended Saturday night, we had a reception at the penthouse for a few friends, collectors, and artists who are fans of Craig's work. I made a couple pitchers of sangria, resisted falling face first into the homemade leche flan, and chilled several bottles of wine and champagne. We spent a good amount of time on the roof because of the oppressive heat (only our bedrooms are air-conditioned in the penthouse), but the downtown skyline and our views of it made it very enjoyable. What made the evening so enjoyable for me was the great mix of people in the room. Thanks to everyone who attended Craig's show and joined us afterwards, I had a blast having such a fun, interesting and varied group of poeple in my home. Before the summer ends, I may have to do it again.

back to our regularly scheduled blogramming

Heat is not conducive to blogging. Neither is fear, uncertainty, heartbreak, unemployment, and I don't care what anyone else says, neither is cancer. I'm sorry to have worried anyone with the scarcity of posts, I've been spending almost every day with my sister and going out every night in an effort to avoid coming home and crying about it all. Thanks for the calls and emails, I guess I didn't realize some people actually look for that as well as drunken tales of whatever it is I do downtown.

I do have many things to report and many upcoming events I'm looking forward to hitting. I promise I'll gather up my notes and get back to it, stay tuned.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

an excerpt

Spring Street for His Darkness

Everyone on Spring Street wished on the new moon.
Everyone on Spring Street is nursing a hasty heart.
Everyone on Spring Street has climbed into bed with a ghost.
Everyone on Spring Street has been ripped apart.
I asked Gronk how long it'd take
to get used to the noises on Spring Street.
He said soon it would sound like the ocean.
What about the fire engines?
"Those are the birds."

--Lewis MacAdams

I missed Lewis MacAdams’ participation in the Aloud Series at the Central Library this past Tuesday. He was scheduled to read from a new collection of poems, The River: Books One, Two & Three, (published by Blue Press in June of 2005), which takes the Los Angeles River as its metaphor. I’m so out of it, I didn’t realize I missed it until the next morning. Damn. Did anyone reading this attend the event? I try to stay on top of these things, I really do.

Monday, July 11, 2005

tell me about it

I went to Ali's divorce party at Cole's this past Friday night. I'm having a hard time piecing together most of the evening and could probably use some help. It's not a complete and total blank, but some details are hazy and some episodes are complete mysteries to me. Most importantly, I do need someone to explain to me what the ramp-up was to that chick with the messed grill coming on to me so hard. No matter how drunk, I have a hard time believing that I would encourage that type of behavior from anyone with teef coming out of teef - even if money or a dare were involved.

I remember that Kitty looked great. Gentlemen, did anybody see what the ceiling in Kitty's new loft apartment looks like that night? That reminds me, welcome to downtown Los Angeles Kitty! I'm so glad you're my neighbor. If you come to visit me I have to warn you. My last two female visitors told me that an older man, one of the residents of the Alexandria, has been riding the elevator all day, all week. As soon as the door opens, he yells, "You better get your ass in here!" But if you dare to step in the elevator, he immediately exits the elevator. So while you probably wouldn't step into that elevator should some man scream that at you, it's perfectly safe to do so. He'll probably exit the elevator car, just as he always has. A small part of me wants him to stay in the elevator, just to hear what he'll say once you get your ass in there.

I remember that there was a pool, $2 got you in. Something about whether or not Ali's ex-wife would show up. A cute-ish guy gave me his card and now I can't find it or remember his name. I remember eating cake and it was yummy. I remember Adam and that was yummy too, or did I just dream that? I think it happened twice? I remember that a troll showed me his penis, and it was small. I don't remember what I said to him, I'm fairly sure it wasn't complimentary. Come to think of it, I don't want to know any more about that part of the evening.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

find love at cole's

Are you a single female in Los Angeles, still looking for that special someone? How do you feel about spending time in Las Vegas? Are you okay with spending time in a dive bar in downtown Los Angeles? Then I want you to meet Ali. He's the proprietor of Cole's and this Friday is his divorce party.

You'll get to meet his friends as most of them will be there to help him celebrate or lament the demise of his marriage. You'll get a chance to see/hear one of the most amazing live bands - I See Hawks in L.A. - they weren't on the regular schedule but this is a special event and so they'll be there to serenade you.

Ali asked me if I knew anyone I could introduce him to, and to invite any special ladies to his divorce party. Although normally a very private person, he was okay with me posting this information on my blog. I wasn't sure at first. Whoever he hooks up with next has to realize this - Ali has some very protective friends. For instance, what if you guys hit it off? I hope we get along because I spend quite a bit of time there and you'll probably be hanging out there a lot. If we don't like each other, then I may have to spend less time there (we won't say what happened to my Cole's attendance during his brief marriage). What if the other regulars don't like you? Will I get all sorts of grief from them? Will they hang out less at Cole's? We can't have that.

I finally came to the conclusion that all those considerations matter less when I think of Ali's happiness. He's a good guy, a lot of fun, knows how to treat a lady and a heart as big as the outdoors. I can't speak to his other body parts. You must be okay with firearms. You must be okay with Vegas, did I mention that? And you must be okay with his coterie of strange, but highly entertaining friends.

I know what else you're thinking. What about the men? If the stars align correctly, you'll have someone behind the bar to wax rhapsodic about as well. There's a female bartender at Cole's, let's name her Kitty, who is pretty special as well. She's really cute, smart (she's a writer doing time behind the bar instead of in front of it), fantastic smile, and a hot ass. Kitty isn't there all the time, just whenever Ali calls her in, but you could call ahead and ask Ali if she'll be tending bar this Friday (213-622-4090).

Finally, I have to tell you what isn't normally written about Cole's, but the regulars know too well. Cole's - where the men are slow and the women are fast. So will I see you at Cole's this Friday?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

this makes no sense to me

I'm such a sentimental ass. Yesterday was my sister's birthday. I wrote a short story, inspired by her wedding in mid-May, titled, "Girls". I've been working and reworking it, unable to even tell her about it. Her husband James called me saying the loft was clear of visiting relatives I'd been avoiding. I told him I'd be over in a few minutes. Before I walked over to her loft, I thought about all these people from the past, people who are no longer in our lives, and I started sobbing uncontrollably. So it took me a while to get it together and walk over. I'm still reworking the piece, but I gave her a copy of the latest draft after Ali and Adam left her loft yesterday. She read it, then started flipping through her notebooks, looking for something. She found a paragraph and motioned for me to read it. Just one short paragraph with some of her hopes for the future, things she'd like to do and places she wants to see after chemo, plans that included me. I thought I was all cried out, but I was wrong. I want so badly for her wishes to come true.

I left her loft, wondering if I should stop at Cole's for a shot of something. I didn't want to cry on Ali's shoulder in such a public arena, so I went straight home. I ran into one of my roommates in the lobby picking up the mail. I didn't realize how close this all is to the surface, I thought I was keeping it fairly well-contained. But all he had to do was ask carefully, "How are you? Are you okay?" I nodded, but he didn't believe me. Maybe it was the hot tears streaming down my cheeks.

I made it to my bedroom and started to sob just as I was shutting the door. A few minutes later, my phone rang. I couldn't speak of it, but I could tell from Gabrielle's voice and her careful words, she knew something wasn't quite right with me. Am I really that easy to read? Was she just that perceptive? Or was I just doing a piss-poor job of containing all this?

A few hours later, I recovered somewhat and found myself at Cole's with Gabrielle, Jim and Craig. Some of the regulars were also there, eating dinner, catching up, hanging out. They asked about Laura and I managed to keep it together, but they saw the tears forming. Thankfully my phone rang - it was my astrologer. I excused myself to talk nonsense, using that time to blink the tears away. I don't think I fooled anyone. I think I saw Gabrielle tearing up a little, too.

I got home just after midnight and I've been crying sporadically since then. I don't know what's wrong with me. She's looking so much better, I think she's actually gained a few pounds. She starts her third round of chemo this morning and she's admitted she's no longer feeling suicidal. So why can't I stop crying? I'm supposed to catch a screening of Wedding Crashers later tonight, I hope I don't act like an ass and cry through the screening and the Q&A afterwards.


Los Angeles went crazy with fireworks this 4th of July. I was at a barbecue in Chavez Ravine, at Craig & Ping's house. It was a great, boozy, ethnic, all-American barbecue. We drank sangria, beer, and soju while feasting on hamburgers, veggie dogs, chicken, dim sum, and veggie/tofu kabobs. By the time the sun went down we had destroyed major brain cells and I was grateful for elastic waistbands. Then the show started.

From the front porch, we watched the most amazing neighborhood fireworks throwdown. For over two hours, these two factions engaged in dueling fireworks. One neighborhood on one side of the ravine would send up a stream of fireworks, only to have the other side of the ravine answer their call with an equally impressive array. I don't mean the party pack you get from a stand in Alhambra either. I'm talking six-inch mortars throwing a barrage of illegal fireworks someone probably snuck in over the border. So much for homeland security.

After an hour, we figured the lull in explosions signaled the end of the fireworks display. A few of us trudged back inside to fix another plate of food. But the noise started up again, so back we went to the porch. More fireworks. A half hour later, there was another lull. So back we went to fill up on more sangria and clean up a little. A few minutes later, the fireworks started up again. The timing was impeccable. I imagined they would set off a few, then fix a plate, go back and set off more, stop for a beer or two, then set off yet even more. I liked their timing.

Everyone I talked to/emailed today said pretty much the same thing about their 4th of July experience. Whether eastside, westside, inland, OC, or the valleys - neighborhood fireworks were out of control and we were all glad we stayed home. I wish there were some way to splice together all these neighborhoods, these people, these flavors, to create a Los Angeles experience I could send to friends elsewhere that fully explains why I love this city so much.

when i say "ozo", you say "matli"

This past weekend was a blast. Friday afternoon I was rushing to chop up a huge bag of fruit from Grand Central Market for the huge cauldron of sangria I was making. Angel and I were headed over to CalPlaza's Watercourt Stage for the free Ozomatli concert, but we needed to get the sangria started because this was shaping up to be a thirsty weekend. My cousin and her friend flew in from Portland Friday night and were joining us after the concert, as was Craig, the astrologer, the cinema greek, and Kitty and her crew.

The Grand Performances staff really know how to throw a party. We walked over to the Watercourt and found our reserved seats in front of the water (thanks Dean and Kitty!) just in time for the show. I'm glad we had reserved seats because the place was packed - the announcer said that this was their biggest crowd ever. I can't say enough about Ozomatli - they put on a great live show. The last time I caught them live was maybe 1997 or 1998 at the Santa Monica Thursdays at the Pier concert. Ozomatli really know how to work a crowd, but this crowd didn't need much encouragement. The band made reference to the water, saying, "Welcome to SeaWorld! I feel like Shamu is coming out of the water any time now." Throughout the concert, staffers were swabbing the deck, trying to keep water away from the instruments and bandmembers.

There were so many people packed into the designated dance area next to the amphitheatre seating, I was wondering how long before someone wound up in the water. The show was already a memorable one when two women made their way into the "island" next to the dance area so they'd have more room to dance. Then another couple jumped into the water and started dancing in front of the band, prompting other rabid Ozo fans to do the same. The wading pool was swarming with people, throwing off their shoes, rolling up their pant legs and dancing with abandon. I was worried about the ducks that I saw swimming in the water earlier, so while the crowd was yelling their approval, squealing in pleasure, and encouraging more fans to do the same, I was yelling, "The ducks! Watch out for the ducks!"

They eventually stopped the concert to ask everyone to get out of the water. Something about the membrane at the bottom of the pool getting damaged, which would cost $100,000 to repair and severely impact their ability to schedule free concerts during the summer. That got most of the people out of the water, leaving a few diehard bozos to be coaxed out. The last guy out took his sweet time, he didn't give a rat's ass that half the audience was booing him. The concert eventually continued, but all semblance of order was gone. It was a madhouse. As it drew to a close, the members of Ozomatli danced through the crowd and up the amphitheatre steps, chanting, "Ozomatli, si se fue!" with members of the audience joining the end of the line, chanting and dancing.

Then he was back, that guy who didn't want to come out of the water. He waded over the middle of the water and danced with his back to the audience. He was giving security and everyone booing him the finger when suddenly, he dropped his pants. The crowd went wild. He wiggled his bare ass for a little bit, then he pulled his pants back on and got lost in the crowd. At that point I figured it was time to move along, nothing more to see here. What a great show, all of it.

The Ozomatli after-party was at Little Pedro's, but I didn't feel like hitting it. My cousin G called - her group was at the Standard, but they hated it and wanted to go elsewhere. Craig called to punk out. My astrologer called to say he and the cinema greek would be at the penthouse after midnight. Kitty didn't call, she was probably passed out in a bathroom at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. I was going to have a lot of leftover sangria on my hands. My cousin called again, asking if her group of friends (six in all) could join in the penthouse festivities. Somehow, six friends grew to three carloads and I was glad I made a lot of sangria. Somewhere around 4am, we found ourselves at the Pantry eating eggs, hash browns, grilled sourdough and pancakes until we couldn't eat any more. It was shaping up to be a good weekend.