Friday, August 31, 2007

how to complain about filmLA

I realized after hitting "publish" on my last post that while many of you have been following the saga of downtown filming issues and know who Bert, Ben and Ginny are, you might not know Dennis. Dennis is the elected filming liaison for the Bartlett Building and he's a production supervisor at one of the major studios. So before you haters start commenting, realize that in no way is he anti-filming.

Dennis emailed me to let me know how the situation on Monday night fell apart even further. He said that not one promise made by Geoff Smith was honored. Tired of the back and forth undocumented phone conversations and broken promises, Dennis had a very productive conversation with Amy Yeager of Councilman Huizar's office. He also has ongoing discussion with his co-worker, the person representing their studio in the Special Conditions negotiations. Turns out, the studio itself is a big admirer of Bert Green and finds our Special Conditions to be reasonable - because their studio already does what the Special Conditions require. Then, Dennis wrote an email to FilmLA and copied Councilman Huizar's office. Since I'm in Jan Perry's district, I would copy her and then for good measure I'd copy the CAO's office, since they have oversight for FilmLA's contract with the City.

Here's Dennis' email to Donna Washington at FilmLA, my comments are in parentheses:

"Sorry for taking this long to get back to you, but I wanted to take a moment to pause and reflect - and to regain my composure as a professional and deal with the systematic problems facing us, as opposed to allowing my own frustrations get the better of me as they did Monday night.

After a long talk for the first time with Amy Yeager on Tuesday morning, we both concluded that in each of our respective work environments, the response of "I don't know why this happened" is ever acceptable to those we report to. Unfortunately, this was the main content of your voicemail Tuesday evening regarding why our building was not notified by email or hard copy of the music video filming within 300 feet of our building and your voicemail ended with "I don't know why your building was not notified." This is not acceptable to our Homeowners Association.

From now on, I would prefer communication in email so that we all can work together to keep track of these incidents and figure out how FilmLA can better fulfill their commitments to downtown residents as referenced in the Downtown Filming Rules posted to FilmLA's website on April 26, 2007. Please see the link below:

Also on an ongoing basis, I will also be copying communication to my Homeowners Association Board of Directors to keep them current on issues such as why the communication that I provide from FilmLA's notifications to our 140 owners is repeatedly inaccurate due to the above types of instances - whereby FilmLA's notifications either don't happen, happen too late, or the description is materially different than what occurs in the neighborhood.

This last weekend from Friday to Monday was an excellent example of what we residents face, and I am glad to now communicate with Amy Yeager.

To recap:

1. After less than two days notice and an after-thought communication from the location manager revealing the placement of the condor crane and spotlight placed at the alley on 7th Street - 50 feet from the front door of my building , "Women's Murder Group" struck a last-minute deal with my Association which provided that our alley-side wall would not be lit - yet the opposite happened, lighting our wall. And this was while Todd, the FilmLA monitor stood and watched me have to negotiate a compromise for an hour and a half - and he said nothing. I still have not received a response from Geoff Smith or from the permit coordinator as to whether or not the placement of the condor and the spotlight were referenced in the permits that you issued.

2. "Journeymen" filmed Sunday afternoon under a FilmLA Notification that gave the address for the entrance to the alley at 6th street north of my building. The location manager said they would be only at that end of the alley. And yet they had extras walking back and forth in front of my building doorway at the 7th street entrance to the alley and production crew told our residents they could not park on the north side of 7th street in front of our building - although they did not have a legal lane closure. One of our owners was delayed until after 7:30PM to park her moving van, being told by production crew that the lane closure signs (still not taken down from "Women's Murder Group" from Friday - Saturday morning) were actually their notifications and should have included Sunday as well. This is false and deceptive, disrupting - yet again - our ability to quiet enjoyment of our property.

3. The music video Monday night that was not given consent from my building because there was no FilmLA Notification by email or hardcopy. Amy on your FilmLA hotline told me that you were working to get them out of the parking lot by 10PM because they had not received our sign-off. Later that evening, Geoff Smith while at the location, said they would be leaving at midnight after I told him I understood that they were to leave at 10PM because they did not have our consent. The production was still working at 12:15AM when I went to bed (my bedroom has a direct view of that parking lot) with no activity that remotely resembled packing up, while your FilmLA Monitor was out on the sidewalk. Neighbors were woken up at approximately 1AM to poles clanging, grips yelling, and production vehicle noise such as engines and beeping. I understand from Amy Yeager that four complaints from residents in the neighborhood were called in to LAPD.

So as you can see, I am very concerned that we have an understanding that the repeated response of "I don't know why" is not acceptable. Therefore, I would like to request the following:

1. A systematic breakdown of what at FilmLA is failing to do so that our building entrance continues to be overlooked,

2. A description of the job duties of FilmLA Monitors required to be at the location.

Thanks for your assistance."

Dennis Hunter
Bartlett Building Filming Liaison

If anybody else downtown has similar experiences, responding the way Dennis has is a really good way to voice your objections and concerns. Feel free to use this as a blueprint on how to complain effectively on filming abuses.

interacting with filmLA

Last week, the DLANC ad-hoc filming issues committee turned in our response to the City's RFI, which solicits input from the public regarding the issuance of a contract for film permitting services. Did you fill yours out? If not, the City extended the deadline for responses to today, August 31, 2007. Our response was very strong, full of supporting documentation that was both specific and damning of the way film permits are processed, facilitated, and enforced. Although I felt good about turning in that document, I was not looking forward to this past Monday night's meeting at Red Dot.

We were there to finalize our recommendations for Special Conditions for downtown location filming. From there it would go to DLANC's executive Board for approval, and then for public comment. I didn't foresee the meeting to be uneventful, considering the filming clusterfuck that happened downtown over the weekend, but Curbed LA's link to Bert's post about the meeting made me worry that it might turn into a battleground.

Turns out, I didn't need to worry. No one came to disrupt the meeting, no last-minute protest or late-to-the-table out-of-the-blue requests were made. Before we dove in, Ginny told us about her annoying phone conversation earlier that day with Geoff Smith of FilmLA re the 20+ film permits that were issued over the weekend, and how ugly it got. She told Geoff that it was funny that as soon as we turn in our response to the City's RFI, 20+ film permits were issued for downtown in one weekend, the same weekend as the immigration march on Broadway. No, it didn't look retaliatory at all. He responded by calling her "sweetie", as in 'Listen sweetie, you can't talk to me that way'. I'm not saying that's what he said, but that was the tone and certainly the message that Ginny got - loud and clear. Nice that he insults a representative of the Neighborhood Council like that, someone elected by the area residents to represent their concerns.

We got down to business and line by line, went through the Special Conditions. The whole time, we wondered, "Where is Dennis?" Just then, Dennis walked in talking on his cell phone to Amy, a film coordinator manning the FilmLA hotline. Turns out that in addition to this past weekend's fiasco (where 20+ film permits were issued in one weekend, closing off the 2nd Street Tunnel and other major thoroughfares in and out of downtown), there was a music video setting up for a night shoot on Spring & 7th with loud music being played back until midnight, right in front of his building. No one on the block received hard copy or email notification, despite being subscribed to receive all notifications for downtown film shoots. Ginny quickly pulled up the filming notifications map - the production wasn't on the map, no one received notification. The only thing FilmLA's coordinator had to say was "I don't know why that happened." Amy didn't have any answers, didn't know if anyone was still in the office who could do anything. We asked her, "What, if anything, are you authorized to do?" Seriously, they don't have a protocol to follow when these situations occur? Shit, I'm disorganized, don't have a plan, and can lie through my teeth if I get paid for it too, can I get a contract with the City?

I didn't think it was humanly possible, but Amy's voice rose another octave and she got even more shrill as she scrambled. I thought my ears were going to start bleeding, so I was relieved to hear her say she would find another coordinator and/or whoever permitted that shoot and promised to call us back in ten minutes. Ten minutes later there was still no return call, but Dennis left the meeting to call her back. We managed to go through the Special Conditions and, when Dennis returned, sign off on them. There was still no acceptable resolution to the nightmare shoot facing Dennis and his neighbors on Spring, just an assurance that one of FilmLA's VPs, Donna Washington, was working to get them out of the parking lot by 10pm because the production hadn't received anyone's sign-off.

We left Red Dot and walked south on Spring Street. Ginny and I said our goodbyes and turned left onto 6th street, Dennis and Ben continued down Spring. As Ginny and I approach the corner of 6th and Main, I see a man walking towards us. His brow is furrowed, he's pretty much scowling. Then I recognized him, it was Geoff Smith. I wasn't sure if it was him, so I turned to Ginny for confirmation when she greeted him with a loud and friendly, "Hi Geoff!" He threw us a dirty look and continued down 6th, ignoring us. Ginny's and my jaw went slack and agape, and when we recovered from the shock of his reaction, we started dialing Ben's cell phone furiously. No answer.

We continued to walk down 6th, but then the realization hit us both that Geoff was headed down Spring, steps behind Ben and Dennis. Ginny and I turned to each other and said, "We can't miss this," and skipped down 6th and onto Spring Street, hoping to flag down Ben and Dennis.

From the end of the block, we saw Geoff stop at the lot next door to 626 Reserve and Ben directly across the street at LA Cafe. We didn't see Dennis talking to Geoff. We crossed the street to get Ben. He was at the door, looking across the street when he noticed Geoff and yelled, "Hey, it's Geoff Smith!" Breathlessly (we'd been running), we told Ben of our "encounter" down the street. We crossed the street to where Dennis was already talking to Geoff.

Dennis explained to Geoff everything that was wrong with the situation (there was plenty) and asked Geoff what he was going to do about it. Geoff hemmed and hawed, claiming that he couldn't do anything. Are you as skeptical as I was? More? Remember what Amy said on the hotline about getting the production out of there by 10pm? Geoff said they'd be out of there by midnight. I guess he couldn't find his backbone.

When Dennis explained to Geoff the obvious, that he didn't want to be down on the street in his bathrobe, at midnight, asking the ineffectual film monitor when they're going to finish blasting the playback even though they should've been out by now, Geoff threw out that phony bullshit 'I feel your pain' line, saying "I hear you Dennis, I don't get paid to be out here at night either."

I interjected, "Oh yes you do."

Geoff replied, "No I don't."

"It's part of your job, isn't it? You're getting paid to be here, none of us are."

Ben asked, "You're salaried, aren't you?"

By then Geoff just chose to ignore me and my interjections. But here's a good question - why lie about that? Just so we can think that he's on our side and feels our pain but gosh golly, he's not in any position to do anything? No one is buying it and the fact that he even tried it shows how little regard he has for this community and its elected representatives.

At one point when I was backing up Dennis' argument and poking holes in Geoff's position, he said testily to me, "I'm not talking to you, I'm talking to Dennis."

Well, we're all here for the same reason, but I replied, "Well then when Dennis is done with you I have words for you." Then he turned to address only Dennis, leaving Ben, me, and Ginny shaking our heads. Dennis told Geoff that he needs to address all of us, which he then did by talking in circles again, a whole series of denials, excuses and shifting of blame. Ben quoted Municipal Code to Geoff, explaining what he was in violation of (don't ask me what it was, but I was very impressed that Ben was so knowledgable and prepared), and how they were setting themselves up for a huge lawsuit. Geoff then said, "Well Ben, I guess if that's what you have to do..."

Ben brought up the fact that Geoff had called Ginny "sweetie" earlier during their phone conversation. Geoff denied it, saying that isn't a word that he uses. Ginny's jaw dropped, my head shook - what an asshole. Still he kept talking, saying "I'm sorry if that's what you heard..." That wasn't an apology, that was another lie and another fucking insult.

Ginny had to leave, it was getting late and we weren't getting anywhere. I was going to stay for as long as Dennis was, so I called home and asked Jim to come down with Wonton so I wouldn't have to walk home alone. After a few more rounds it was obvious that Geoff wasn't going to shut down the shoot or make them leave at 10pm. Dennis went home to deal with the situation from there, so Ben and I stood in front of 626 Reserve, talking to the proprietors and listening to their film crew horror stories while Geoff stood 25 feet away, calling for back-up. A car pulled up carrying Donna Washington, but Jim and Wonton turned the corner and I needed to go.

Later the next day, I get an email from Dennis when I asked him what happened after we left:

"OH! You will love this! Donna called with Geoff on the phone at about 9:00 I think - and the call kept dropping, but they finally were able to tell me that the production was moved into the alley (it was not - it stayed in the same place we saw and the entire south wall of the Latino Legal building was lit up), and that they would be done at midnight rather than 10. I went to bed at about 12:15, watching from my bedroom window as the Film Monitor was walking up and down the sidewalk - and the production crew kept working with no sense of anyone packing up.

Later at about 1:00ish - the trucks pulled out, pipes were clanging, crew were yelling back and forth to each other, trucks backing up were beeping. Same old, same old.

Donna said she would call me today - I have not heard from her."

Oh, and I haven't forgotten about Geoff's comments in the post below. Geoff, you're right and I was wrong - according to the City Administrative Office, the payment to FilmLA may be up to $572,000 and not $800,000 (item 4). You know, I'm still pretty incensed that $572,000 of our tax dollars finances their malfeasance. See what I did just there? That's how you admit a mistake and fix it. It's probably too much to hope that anyone from FilmLA was taking notes. In any case, stick around, I have more information coming.

Count the days Geoff, they're numbered.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

over-filming downtown: the four day outlook

I got an email from fellow downtown resident Benjamin Pezzillo re over-filming downtown and thought it was important enough to post here. Ben makes some really good points about filming and the different ways it impacts our neighborhood. Please read on, forward the link to others, comment - just don't be passive and accept the status quo. Just remember that FilmLA got a six-month extension and a check for $800,000 from the City of Los Angeles. That would not be possible without your tax dollars, and I am not going to just lie down and accept their lies, deceit and shoddy work ethics. I refuse to finance their malfeasance with my tax dollars, how about you?

It looks like FilmLA has set an all time record -- 25 eNotifications for filming Downtown issued in one day. The forecast calls for shoots starting as early as 5a Saturday morning and will continue steadily through Tuesday. Keep an eye out for that helicopter over the Four-Level on Sunday.

Tomorrow's impact could also be amplified with a planned immigration march up the middle of Broadway from 10a-4p. If the CAO is correct, all of this is with the approval of the LAPD's Special Operations Bureau/Emergency Operations Division/Special Events Permit Unit whose staff is minute compared to FilmLA's.

I can just hear the conversation tomorrow in those upscale European cars, "Wow, it would have been great to drive Downtown to check out the real estate market, but between the filming and everything else going on there was no where to park so we could get out and walk around to check it out."

Folks, it's not always as much about the people who live and/or work/business Downtown -- it's also about the people who are getting their first impressions of an area they have heard more and more about all over the country. For Downtown to prosper, in my opinion, it must always remain accessible to the unacquainted. People are coming Downtown just to come Downtown again.

How long before the media articulates the economic value of that against the negative impacts of over-filming and obnoxious behavior by The Industry?

It's nearly midnight, and right now the shoot parked across the street among the residential buildings across the alley from The Palace seems to think it's a good time to use their power tools.

I'd call FilmLA, but what would be the point? Geoff Smith insists the production would never have gotten its permit without the permission of the building at the end of the block which insists it got neither a notice nor a request for a signature survey.

Benjamin Pezzillo

Something else that Ben pointed out to me - the contact person for oversight of FilmLA's contract with the City of Los Angeles is David Hirano in the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). Mr. Hirano can accept complaints regarding FilmLA and make certain they are passed along. He can be reached on (213) 978.7621 or via email at david.hirano[at]lacity[dot]org.

Speak your mind or risk losing your voice.

Friday, August 17, 2007

i can see your loft from here

downtown sunset

One of the many things I love about the loft I share with my husband, Jim, and our puppy, Wonton - besides the view of the downtown skyline - is that I can see the streets and sidewalks. When I lived at the Alexandria, I couldn't see the street unless I went on the roof and leaned waaaay over. Great view of the skyline and neighboring buildings, but no street. Jim used to live above Pete's Cafe in the San Fernando Building and I think we spent most of our time there because of the great views of the streetlife at the corner of 4th and Main. Well, that and my place was haunted and it was starting to freak me out, but that's another blog entry.

“Think of a city and what comes to mind,” the urbanist Jane Jacobs once said. “Its streets. If a city’s streets look interesting, the city looks interesting.”

From here I can see onto 5th, 6th, Main and Los Angeles Streets and let me tell you, those are interesting streets. I especially like the drama that unfolds at the bus stop and the mid-block crosswalk just north of 6th and Main. I've seen dogs fighting, then a few minutes later, their owners. I haven't witnessed any racist exchanges on Main, just participated in one. I see cops pulling cars over, shaking down speedsters, dealers, thieves, loiterers, and jaywalkers. I see bloggers, artwalkers, and tourists and new-to-downtown residents wielding cameras. I hear the loud, repetitive beeps before I see the bus loading a handicapped rider. I hear the buses, oh boy do I hear the buses - the robotic voice identifying the streets and route as it hisses to a stop, and the high-pitched screech as it pulls away.

Almost all the violence in downtown Los Angeles that I've witnessed or was impacted by personally happened on Los Angeles Street. Before I moved into this loft, I parked my car across the street and had my car broken into late one night. We didn't find out until after we moved in that Adam was held up at gunpoint in front of our building. I think we read it on his blog after we unpacked all my shoes and CDs. I can see the automated pay toilet on 5th and Los Angeles from our patio. Unfortunately, that's not the one that blogs.

I hear the sirens from the police, the fire department, and the paramedics. I hear the sirens differently now. Once, it meant an actress had OD'd while filming a movie at the Alexandria. Another time it meant a domestic disturbance where a man threw his wife out their 5th-story window and onto Spring Street. But after riding in the ambulance driving Laura to the hospital, hearing that siren from inside the vehicle-- well, it's different now. When I came back from Hawaii after burying my sister, I cried every time I saw a "Los Angeles" street sign. Now, I see "Los Angeles" and though I still sometimes cry, I know I'm home.

moon rising over downtown

ice cream anti-social

Blogdowntown hosted a picnic in Elysian Park this past May that was well-attended and a lot of fun, but I thought it was too hot to eat pizza. When talk of another blogdowntown get-together involving more pizza came up, I suggested an ice cream social instead. After careful consideration and one negative comment, Ed suggested we call it an ice cream anti-social (because you have to support local businesses and buy your own damn cone instead of just showing up for free ice cream).

So although there are a ton of fun things going on this weekend (Sunset Junction, Tofu Festival, Nisei Week, Trojan Women, etc.), I heartily recommend attending the blogdowntown ice cream anti-social this Sunday at 3pm in Little Tokyo. I suggest hitting the Tofu Festival earlier for lunch and walking around. Then at 3pm (probably right around the time you need a cool little pick-me-up), head over to Weller Court, next to the new Piccomolo Italian Ice Cream shop at 2nd and San Pedro. Jim and I checked it out opening weekend and picked up a two-for-one coupon - sweet! But I have to admit, I'm a fan of ceFiore in the Japanese Village Plaza a block away. Though if it's really hot, I guess I could have both.

After the anti-social, stick around for the Nisei Week parade at 6pm. You'll probably be hungry again after that. Although there is still no open 'gina in Little Tokyo, there is no shortage of good places to eat in that part of downtown.

See you at the anti-social!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

comes in six different colors

If you are among one of the many readers of this blog who felt a pang of jealousy when you saw my OG Hello Kitty vibrator, then I have great news for you. Sanrio announced the much-anticipated and glorious return of the official Hello Kitty massager in a new form, and in six colors - red, blue, yellow, green, mandarin, green and pink.



Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, the new Hello Kitty massager comes dressed in a horse "kigurumi" (full head and body costume), with seven (7!) small rounded studs on the bottom, for your pleasure. And if you want to keep it handy, or if you have a problem with leaving behind Hello Kitty items in hotel rooms (or clothing), there's a keychain attachment so you can keep it with your housekeys, hang it from your bag, or attach to handcuffs. The massager is activated by a button on the back of Kitty's head. They just think of everything, don't they?

So if you don't have the original pink Hello Kitty vibrator from 1997-1999 (like mine in the picture below), you can now get the 2007 version from J-List. I want one in every color!

hello kitty vibrator

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Last week my Development Exec and I attended an advance screening of Superbad at the WGA Theater, followed by a Q&A with co-writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. The movie was, except for one short lull in the second act, a non-stop laugh riot. It was a relentless barrage of laugh out loud moments. There were times when I, along with the jaded industry audience, was screaming at the screen in glee and laughing so hard that I couldn't hear the rest of the scene.

Check out the R-rated trailer for Superbad:

They didn't use all the funniest parts for the trailer, that was just a taste of the hilarity that ensues. There will be the inevitable comparisons to other teen comedies, but Superbad is so funny - it makes American Pie feel more like Dancer in the Dark in comparison. Superbad opens this weekend. Do yourself a favor and watch it. Unfortunately, it's not playing at my Laemmle, but to see Superbad again I would willingly leave downtown.

The Q&A wasn't that illuminating, but I blame that on the moderator's lame questions. Seth Rogen was pretty damn funny. They wrote the first draft of the screenplay when they were fourteen years old and named the principal characters "Seth" and "Evan" after themselves. In later years, when they tried to change the names to "Sam" and "Eric", it sounded stupid so they didn't change it. The guy who plays "McLovin" is a high school drama student making his major motion picture debut, and they knew the minute he walked in the room to audition that he was McLovin. Let me think, what else? Oh yeah, Superbad is the comedy screenplay I wish I had written and I think my Dev Exec now has a crush on Seth Rogen. It also became evident through all the questions that Judd Apatow protects his writers and directors from studio interference.

Now I really hate the screenplay I'm rewriting.

how i really hurt my hand

I sprained the thumb on my left hand a few weeks ago. It should've healed by now, but I keep re-injuring it because I've been forgetful about putting the brace back on after I wash my hands. But in the past week, it seems like everyone has noticed the brace and asked, "What happened?"

"I sprained it playing with Wonton."

I don't get much sympathy. Usually I get laughs. It doesn't bother me that people laugh at my injury and what caused it. It is hard to believe that an eight-pound Shih Tzu puppy could do all that. So I've decided to come clean with how I hurt my hand. I tried to emulate the guy in the video below playing Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child o' Mine" using only his hands and fingers:

While I'm in this confessional mode, I also want to explain something else. A while back people were asking about all the words inked on my hands. I made some lame excuse about not having paper on me and writing some notes for my rewrite down on my hand. Another lie. This is what I was trying to do:

Whew, I feel better already.

"There are things to confess that enrich the world, and things that need not be said."
--Joni Mitchell

Monday, August 13, 2007

downtown is so bloggy...

Downtown Los Angeles is so bloggy (3rd bloggiest in the country, to be precise) that even our dogs blog. In addition to blogdowntown and the blogs on their blogroll, there's Urban Memo, Skid Row Dude, a condominium, and an automated pay toilet. I saw Bert this weekend, he told me he's giving it a shot as well and today, my dog launched his blog, (213)dog. Yeah, I didn't know he could type, either.

wonton gets tangled
He's a very smart dog, but I don't think he knows what he's getting into.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that a piece of tofu named Tofujii is also blogging.

Friday, August 03, 2007

was that a car alarm?

Yesterday, I was walking up Los Angeles Street towards 6th. The light was red, and as I approached the intersection I saw her. She was probably 15-16 years old, dirty blonde disheveled hair, wearing short shorts, a dirty t-shirt and a windbreaker. She was really out of it and looked like she'd been living on the streets for a couple of weeks. She was standing next to this big guy who wore a football jersey, bandanna holding back his braids. He was huge. I had a boyfriend in college who was that big, his nickname was "Wall Unit".

I stood on the corner, waiting for the light to change so I could cross. She stood next to me, looking dazed and confused. His voice, deep and sonorous, asked her, "So where are you stayin'?" He reminded me of Ving Rhames, only younger and scarier.

Still dazed, she looked down 6th Street, then up Los Angeles. She bit her lip, brought her thumb up to her mouth, then gestured vaguely down the street, "Over there somewhere." He shook his head, "Oh no, you're with me now." The light turned green. He took her hand and they crossed the street beside me. They continued up Los Angeles Street, hand in hand, while I waited to cross again. Did I just witness a pimp pick up a runaway? Should I say something, do something? If yes, then what? And to who? If I ever see her again, will she be turning tricks in a porta-potty? I watched her walk away with her new "protector" and realized I couldn't do anything. So I did nothing.

Later in the day, I found myself participating in a bizarre racist exchange on Main Street. There I was, was standing at the mid-block crosswalk on Main Street by my parking garage. I pressed the button, then I heard some guy behind me, chanting, "CHING-CHONG! CHING-CHANG-CHONG!" I heard him getting closer, thought to myself, "WTF?" and turned around.

A Middle-Eastern guy in a grey jumpsuit was about 10 feet away from me, looking right at me, walking towards me, trying to intimidate me with, "CHING-CHONG! CHING-CHANG-CHONG!" Motherfucker. I couldn't let that pass. I turned towards him and stood my ground. But I didn't yell something equally racist like, I don't know, "Fuck you, ya terrorist," or whatever. No. I mean, he didn't call me a "chink" or anything. He was just chanting some nonsense words that sounded vaguely Asian and derogatory.

So what did I do? I reciprocated in kind. I turned around, looked right at him sneeringly, and ululated. Loudly. "ULALALALALALALALALAL!" He kept walking towards me, so I showed no fear and kept on wailing, "ULALALALALALALALALAL!" He got right up to me and said something in Arabic that I, of course, did not understand. So I said calmly, "Fuck you, asshole." He continued jabbering at me over his shoulder as he walked away. I continued, "Yeah, keep walking motherfucker before I wax on, wax off on your ass, ya pussy." I know, I'm ridiculous.

And to think I was worried that downtown is getting too gentrified and boring. Well, it's a lot of things, but definitely not boring.

old news

Last week Jim and I attended the Downtown News' Best of Downtown party at the Hotel Figueroa. It seems like the only time I make it over to the wonderful poolside bar there, it's for this party. Note to self: change that.

Others have covered the party and the list itself. I'm not even going to look for links. It was kind of a snore. Tom Gilmore didn't jump in the pool this year. I asked Cedd Moses if it was his turn this year to jump in, but he declined politely. He didn't run away screaming from me, so I asked him what was going on with Cole's and when would it reopen.

"January," he said. He elaborated a little more, but that was last week and I had a few drinks so I don't remember what he said exactly. But he did say that they aren't making any changes to the front room except for a good scrubbing. They took pictures of the interiors before they took everything down, so they know where all the pictures and whatnot go. I'll just wait and see come January.

In related news, Ali, formerly of Cole's is getting married again in two weeks. Congratulations Ali!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

tribulations, trojan women, and the hockey puck

Nic Cha Kim is one busy guy. He's a co-founder of Gallery Row and his downtown art gallery, Niche L.A. offers free film screenings on Wednesday nights. Did I mention that he's producing the play Trojan Women for Lodestone Theatre and it opens this weekend? All that and a day job working for Disney. I feel like such a slacker.

I can't even make it to his screening tonight. I'm also missing tonight's Skid Row Walk and the DLANC Outreach Center Spruce-Up. What am I doing that's so important that I'll willingly miss all these downtown events? I'm going to see Mr. Warmth himself, Don Rickles, at the Central Library. Gawd, I hope he insults me.

Free Film Screenings
Every Wednesday: August 1st @ 7:30PM
4th floor of the Spring Arts Tower
453 S. Spring St. #443
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(corner of 5th and Spring!)
Get info on parking/directions

Niche.LA Video Art invites you and a guest to attend a free movie screening of "Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America (1992)" by Craig Baldwin.

In the year 1000, aliens from the planet Quetzalcoatl flee their dying planet and take refuge under the Earth's surface. Disturbed by 1950s American atomic testing, the aliens strike back at the USA in such varied schemes as the replicant Castro, the psychic vampire regime in Grenada and the Allende plot to alter the Earth's axis. Only covert action by the CIA can stop the dreaded Quetzals. Running Time: 48 min.

Every Wednesday, the curators of Niche.LA Video Art celebrate the best in film by showcasing a free movie night. Space is limited, so please RSVP via email, or call/text (213) 247-0002.

Please bring your own refreshments.

Don't forget about his play, Trojan Women:

Lodestone Theatre Ensemble presents its mainstage production of Kenneth Cavander’s translation of Euripides’ classic play The Trojan Women, running August 4-26, 2007 at the GTC Burbank (1111-B West Olive Ave., Burbank, CA 91506) located inside George Izay Park.

In keeping with the theater’s mission to support and foster Asian Pacific American artists, the play has been cast with Asian Pacific American actors led by veterans Emily Kuroda (The Gilmore Girls) and Kelvin Han Yee (Lucky You). In addition to Kuroda and Yee, the cast also includes Feodor Chin, Elpidio Ebuen, Vincent Gabucan, Junko Goda, Jayne Han, Elaine Kao, Jully Lee, Stephanie Lincoln, Molly Mickelson, Janet Song, Patricia Ayame Thomson, Angie Tsang & Juliet Wong. The Trojan Women is produced by Stephanie Chang and Nic Cha Kim.

For reservations, please call 323-993-7245

Okay, who wants to go see Trojan Women? Next Friday anyone? Dave? Penelope? Shannon? Ed? Kitty? Toilet? Anybody? Bueller?

cry "attica" and let loose the dogs of downtown

I'm exhausted. Last night, Jim and I took Wonton out for his debut to the downtown social circle - Dog Day Afternoon at the Cathedral. Wonton has been out before, playing with his sister and other dogs while waiting to get groomed at The Lofty Dog. This was different. This was bigger. And it was one of the best events I've ever attended downtown. The plaza was filled with dogs, their owners, and friendly downtowners without dogs. Wonton was so excited, I thought he was going to shake his tail off.

tank and wonton
Photo courtesy of trainedmonkey

Jim blogged about it, that's his pic of Wonton interacting with Tank, an English Bulldog. Since we both had our hands full managing Wonton, we didn't take many pictures of him with Joe's dog Ruby (they got along swell, Wonton let Ruby have three of his treats), the hosts of the event Buddy and Joaquin (and their owners Hal Bastian and Monsignor K), or any of the pony-sized dogs that Wonton bravely approached. Thankfully, Ed and Don were there with their cameras. Don blogged and posted some pics of me and Wonton. I love this pic that Ed took of Wonton and yet another large dog, and this pic of Wonton getting sniffed by Ben's dogs, Luca and I forget the name of their other dog.

After a while, Wonton calmed down and just made his way through the plaza, greeting dogs and charming people. At one point he tried to sniff Buddy's butt (he's a Golden Lab), but was knocked down by one sweep of Buddy's wagging tail. Hilarity. We met some other downtown Shih Tzus and their owners - Kimberly and Kloey, who just moved downtown from Las Vegas (welcome to downtown!) and Dalai, another Lofty Dog customer. Unfortunately, we didn't see Wonton's sister, or his brother Tubby, both downtown dogs. Co-organizer and downtown booster extraordinaire Hal Bastian said he wants to organize another downtown dog social, so hopefully they can make the next one.

Next up on Wonton's list of things to do - my mom's birthday lunch at our loft this Saturday, The Lofty Dog's Yappy Hour during the Downtown Art Walk next Thursday, and he's launching his own blog. Yes, a downtown dog blog. Stay tuned.

what's taking so long?

drying pasta
August, and downtown Los Angeles still is without an open 'gina. Seriously, what is taking so long? Are they still drying the pasta?

Previously, on 'gina watch:

July 'gina watch
Borat wants 'gina
no time for 'gina
Yoda waits for 'gina
'gina and Kajima
it's not dolores, but it rhymes with another body part