Saturday, December 29, 2007

Our neighbors must think we're crazy

We're having our house painted. "The neighbors must think we're crazy" commented U. when we saw the colors up on the house for the first time. And he thinks of this song, "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley (see video above) every time he sees it.

To reflect our taste and personalities, U. and I picked some very bright and modern colors for the house:

Exuberant Orange
Indigo Night (blue)
with some bright white trim to make both colors really pop

We had the interior walls of our house painted when we first purchased the house, each room painted a different bright color, but the outside of the house sat there a dull blue/gray and dingy white. It didn't reflect who we were in any way. We're both creative and love modern funky design (the opposite of cookie cutter). It's been long overdue for a change and face lift. It makes me happy to see the transformation each day.

This morning our neighbor across the street approached me and said, "It's so bright!" and then asked my 2.5 year old daughter if she picked out the colors. We were expecting that kind of reaction.

Although we live in LA in an area of the city that's pretty eclectic and all the homes are custom built, (so each home is unique in look and feel), we're the young, quirky couple with a kid on our street. (I guess we can add "crazy" now too to the list of adjectives our neighbors would use to describe us.)

So we shocked the bejesus out of our neighbors. At least it'll give them something to talk about.

Good riddance to boring! Hello bright, modern, invigorating house!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas 2007!

Photo by: Kelly Sims

Wishing everyone a warm and cozy Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Bring On the Reality TV Shows!

Donny And Marie May Return To TV

Donny and Marie Osmond could be making their way back to television together on the heels of their recent association with ABC's "Dancing With the Stars."Sources have indicated that there's been interest from networks and syndicators in the pair, who previously starred in such series as the 1970s variety show "The Donny & Marie Show" and the late-'90s daytime talker "Donny & Marie."The talks revolve around hosting duties for reality series in primetime and a syndicated talk show for daytime, sources said. >>Read the rest of the story

Source: Yahoo TV -" What You Talkin' 'Bout?"

Scared of Santa

It's that time of year again - The Los Angeles Times "Scared of Santa" photo contest. Click here to see more entries.

In years past I laughed when I saw these photos. But this year my 2 and a half year old daughter is deathly afraid of Santa Claus, so it's going to be an interesting *ahem* experience to try to get her to sit on Santa's lap for a photo. Now I feel for the parents (and Santa!). Even before the photo was taken you know it took a lot of cajoling, begging, pleading, and sheer determination (if not brute force) to get these kids to even go near Jolly old Saint Nick.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Neighborhood Christmas Light Displays (Los Angeles County)

My little one is old enough now to appreciate this holiday season with all its Christmas lights and decorations. We went to the DWP Light Festival in Griffith Park last month, but she's more excited about seeing neighborhood houses decked out for Christmas. "Look Mom...Christmas!" my two and a half year old shouts every time we pass by a house with Christmas lights and a Santa, snowman, or reindeer. So this year we're going to check out some other neighborhood Christmas light displays that I've listed below.

Christmas Tree Lane, Altadena
From the 210, take the Fair Oaks exit. Turn right on Fair Oaks. Turn right onto W. Woodbury Rd. Turn left onto Santa Rosa Ave, which is Christmas Tree Lane.

Turn off your headlights and drive through three very long blocks of large trees sweeping over the street, highly decorated with colored lights. I've been told this is very worth the drive.

Christmas Tree Lane ends at Altadena Dr. Take a right on Altadena Dr. and turn right on Allen Avenue. Proceed to Mendocino Lane, turn left.

Balian House, Altadena
Home to the famous ice cream manufacturer, this estate sits on 3.5 acres and is decorated with 10,000 colored lights and numerous holiday depictions.

Take N. Allen Ave SOUTH until it stops at E. California Blvd. Turn left on E. California Blvd. to S. San Gabriel Blvd. Turn right on S. San Gabriel Blvd. to W. Huntington Dr. Turn right on W. Huntington Drive and continue to St. Albans Road. Turn right on Saint Albans Road, which is Christmas Tree Lane.

Christmas Tree Lane, San Marino
This is the sister street to Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena. Said to be even more spectacular than the Altadena display of lights, this street is backlit with estate homes, whose homeowners have gone all out for the holidays. Meander the streets of San Marino and enjoy the sites, then continue on to Old Pasadena for a respite. There you will find a cup of hot cocoa or a full meal nestled amidst the season's decorations.

Return to W. Huntington Dr. and turn left. Turn left again on S. San Gabriel Blvd. Turn left on E. California Blvd. Turn right on S. Fair Oaks Ave. and continue into Old Pasadena

Upper Hastings Ranch, Pasadena
Each block of the area competes, creating displays with a common theme. Upper Hastings Ranch is bordered by Michillinda Avenue to the East, Sierra Madre Blvd. to the South and Riveria Drive to the West. From the 210 Freeway, take Michillinda Blvd. North to the lights.

St. Albans Road, San Marino
From Upper Hastings Ranch, take Michillinda South to Huntington drive and continue to St. Albans Road, turn right.

Ultra Orange & Emmanuelle - "Sing Sing"

Emmanuelle Seigner has a Nico-esque air about her. The beautiful, tall, blond, lead singer, and former model sings a bit off key with an accent. In her case it's a French accent (rather than Nico's German accent). She's also an actress (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), and the wife of Roman Polanski.

I also love her song "Don't Kiss Me Goodbye".

Johann Sebastian Bach - "Concerto for Piano in F Minor, BMV 1056 - Largo"

Margaret Cho

I love this photo of Margaret Cho that appears on her new website.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

When was the last time you saw a movie that changed the way you look at life?
Not since "The Joy Luck Club" and "English Patient" have I been so moved by a film. The story itself is remarkable and full of heartbreak and hope. The film is mesmerizing with beautiful images woven throughout it. The image of the hair blowing in the wind with a U2 song blaring, had me sobbing. It's just one example of a small detail so full of sensory and symbolic imagery set off by an awesome, perfectly chosen soundtrack that touched me so deeply, without explanation.

Initial hesitation to see the movie

When I heard about this movie my first thought was, "Depressing." It sounded similar to "My Left Foot" which I loved, but I wasn't sure I was in the mood for a depressing movie. Then I heard an interview with the director, Julian Schnabel (also a painter) on the radio, about the movie. (Thank God for artists. They make the world more interesting.) That's when I decided I had to see the movie.

Although it's a sad story, it's also life affirming.

I'm currently reading the book that the film is based on.

The True Life StoryIn December 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby, the 43 year old editor of French Elle magazine, suffered a massive stroke that left him completely and permanently paralyzed.

(A photo of the real life Jean-Dominique Bauby.)

A victim of "locked in syndrome" his brain is still intact and he can think, hope, imagine, and dream, but his brain stem no longer communicates with his spinal chord which leaves him paralyzed from head to toe, imprisoned in his own body, unable to move or speak. He describes the feeling as a giant invisible diving bell holding his whole body prisoner. His only means of communication is done by blinking his left eye. His imagination allows him to transcend his ordeal and take flight like a butterfly. Jean-Dominique Bauby went on to write his memoir entitled, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" in which he painstakingly dictated it letter by letter as the alphabet was recited to him, signaling the correct letter with the blink of his left eye. The book took about 200,000 blinks to write and each word took approximately two minutes.He died just days after the French publication of his book.

Rave Reviews
"The sentences soar, unburdened by self-pity or despair, and the progression of short, lyrical chapters begin to resemble the beat of wings." - The New Yorker

"The most remarkable memoir of our time - perhaps of any time." - Cynthia Ozick

"Mesmerizing." - Newsweek

"Read this book and fall back in love with life..." - Edmund White
  • Johnny Depp was originally cast to play the lead role of Jean-Dominique Bauby in the film, but then was wrapped up in The Pirates of the Carribbean movie and was unavailable.
  • The actress Emmanuelle Seigner, who plays the common law wife and mother of Jean-Dominique Bauby's children, also sings on the soundtrack. She's the lead singer of the band Ultra Orange & Emmanuelle (since 2006). She's also married to famous director Roman Polanski (since 1989), and they have two children together.

I read that a soundtrack album just came out December 11th via Hollywood record that won't actually have a physical release (you can only get it digitally in stores). Here's a list of the songs used in the movie.

  1. "Theme for 'The Diving Bell & the Butterfly'" by Paul Cantelon

  2. "La Mer" - Performed by Charles Trenet (opening credits)

  3. "Je Chante Sous La Pluie" (French adaptation of "Singin' in the Rain")

  4. "Chains of Love" - Performed by the Dirtbombs

  5. "Concerto for Piano in F Minor, BMV 1056 - Largo" (J.S. Bach)

  6. "Napoli Milionaria" (Nina Rota)

  7. "All the World is Green" - Performed by Tom Waits

  8. "Pauvre Petite Fille Riche" (Vline Buggy/Hubert Giraud)

  9. "Lolita Love Theme" (Robert J. Harris)

  10. "Ultra Violet (Light My Way)" - Performed by U2 (Lourdes flashback/Day scenes)

  11. "Don't Kiss Me Goodbye" - Performed by Ultra Orange with Emmanuelle (Lourdesflashback/Night scenes)

  12. "Pale Blue Eyes" - Performed by the Velvet Underground

  13. "Happy Birthday to You" (Patty & Mildred Hill)

  14. "Quatre Cents Coup" - title track from the Francois Truffaut film

  15. "Ramshackle Day Parade" - Performed by Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros (End credits song #1)

  16. "Green Grass" - Performed by Tom Waits (End credits song #2)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bjork Concert at Nokia Theater LA 12/12/2007

This was my fourth time seeing Bjork in concert, and first time at the new Nokia Theater in Downtown Los Angeles (next to Staples Center).

No matter how many times you've seen her live, it's always exciting and you never know what to expect. She's always reinventing herself and her concerts are a feast for the eyes and spirit.

Colorful Chinese banners were used for set design, and Bjork wore a quirky reflective silver costume and headband. We also got to hear/experience her sweet "thank you's" tinged with her Icelandic accent and for some reason a few "gracious's" as well.

The audience was on their feet the entire concert. The spider web thread was a nice touch and kept people standing afraid they'd miss something if they sat down. And there was pyrotechnics as well. It was just that kind of concert.

To the guy that was standing in front of me wearing a floppy desert hat. I own a similar type of hat which my mom commented, "Did you just come back from Iraq?" when she saw me wearing it. I get it when you're at Coachella, out in the hot desert sun. It's a great hat for being out in the elements. But in an air conditioned, pitch black, closed concert theater? Not so much.

I was however happy to see lots of other cooler hats in the audience and people who dressed up.

Bjork announced this will be the last time she plays in the United States for probably 3 years.

Complete Setlist for the Evening
01. Intro - Brennið Þið Vitar
02. Anchor Song
03. Immature
04. Unravel
05. Unison
06. Jóga
07. Hunter
08. The Pleasure Is All Mine
09. Pagan Poetry
10. Who Is It
11. Cocoon
12. Earth Intruders
13. Army Of Me
14. Innocence
15. Cover Me
16. Wanderlust
17. Hyperballad
18. Pluto

19. Oceania
20. Declare Independence

Ratatat - the opening band

The keyboardist reminded me of "Animal" - that's right the muppet. U. was in stitches watching his theatrics, head banging to each note, and doing back bends for extended periods of time. Usually I wouldn't laugh, but he had a huge afro, dressed in a checkered shirt and acted completely ridiculous- it was just too much and I had to laugh out loud a few times myself.

Nokia Theater
It's very cool that we have another concert venue in Los Angeles. I like the location and it was surprisingly convenient to get in an out of. Also appreciated the advertising free atmosphere inside the theater. Orchestra seats were nice, but it looked like wherever you sat, you'd have a good view. The one downside was the parking - $25. The theater is pretty sparse inside. It leaves you feeling like maybe it's unfinished. Or were they just trying to be minimal with plain black?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Interview with Jack Nicholson (Parade Magazine)

After decades of great films and grand love affairs,
‘I want to go on forever’
By Dotson Rader, Parade Magazine, December 9, 2007
His Stylist for the photoshoot - Victoria "Posh" Beckham.

After three Oscars and a decades-long career defined by amazing roles, Jack Nicholson has proven himself to be one of the greatest actors working in film today. Dotson Rader spent nearly seven hours with Nicholson in Los Angeles, his home for 54 years. Below are excerpts from their conversation.

Nicholson, known for his cool worldliness and womanizing, seems warm and expansive when I meet him in Beverly Hills. He lives on a Mulholland Drive hilltop in the eight-room house he bought 36 years ago.

“I used to live so freely,” Nicholson says. “The mantra for my generation was ‘Be your own man!’ I always said, ‘Hey, you can have whatever rules you want—I’m going to have mine. I’ll accept the guilt. I’ll pay the check. I’ll do the time.’ I chose my own way. That was my philosophical position well into my 50s. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had to adjust.” Jack Nicholson’s hair is thinning and going gray. At 70, he has a middle-age spread and legs that aren’t as nimble as they used to be. He tools about L.A. in the back of a very large black limousine, chain-smoking unfiltered cigarettes. “My accountant tells me that if I don’t drive, I save money by not insuring myself.”

His Working-Class Childhood
“I grew up in a beauty parlor my family ran, so I’m used to getting along with ladies. I prefer their company, for the most part. I was pampered from the very beginning.”
Jack was raised in New Jersey by his grandmother, whom he believed to be his mother. Only at age 37 did he learn that his real mother was his “older sister,” June. His biological father is unknown.
"[New] Jersey's the most parochial place in the world, but the Shore, from Red Bank to Point Pleasant, was a very great place for a kid to grow up. It's a country club kind of mixed area with every kind of person there. All the way from the beach to Main Street, you could read the dollar sign on the houses. As little kids, we didn't deal with class boundaries. We were all over one another."

Hanging Out at New Jersey's Monmouth Park Race Track...and Handicapping Horses
"Even that I felt was an advantage. I was a good handicapper. That's where I got my spending money. The first car I bought was with racetrack money. Even when I worked at MGM, I ran football cards for the bookie there. In the entire season we paid off just two tickets. That's how hard it is to pick three winners against a spread."

His Catholic Family
"I've a very Catholic Irish grandmother, one of the Lynches. She is the root of the family, although my immediate family were failed Irish Catholics. So I had to haltingly investigate Catholicism by myself because nobody asked me to go to church. I was the oldest kid in my First Communion classes. In my opinion, if you're going to be theocratic, Catholicism is the most intelligent belief system."

"My family were tough-minded people who didn't go much for what they called the 'shanty Irish' or professional Irish. But they were Irish, and it manifested itself from an early age. I could always express my opinion, like everybody else, and things got talked about. I wasn't inhibited by anything."

The Passing of His Relatives
"My mother was the first to die, and then my grandmother. We were kind of on the outs because she thought I'd wasted enough time trying to make it in show business. I didn't take well to the criticism. Then she got sick with cancer, and of course I took care of her."

"The last time I saw her we talked quite a bit about life and death. You've got those bright, terminal eyes staring at you and asking you a lot of questions. I know everything about charity and hospitals because none of us had any money."

Moving to Los Angeles
"In California, I didn't know anybody except June [his birth mother], who was living here in Hollywood Park. She taught herself to type and worked her way up. I liked the idea of California. Anyway, I didn't feel I was ready to go to college and work at night. I thought I'd stay here a semester and then go home to college. Frankly, when the time came to go back East, I didn't have the money."

"I always knew there wasn't going to be anybody to help me and emotionally support me, that whatever I did I'd have to do on my own. It makes you rather desperate when you're 16 and you don't know what you want to do with your life, but you know you have to do something."

His Love for Acting
"Once I got started acting I loved it. I wanted to be the best actor possible. I worked very hard at the craft of it. I went to classes for 12 years. I'm a member of The Actors Studio. There's nobody successful who didn't study a lot. It doesn't exist."

"One of the tricks in acting is 'Don't unact anything!' If you are working and you feel like s***, don't try to make yourself look good because it all starts with yourself."

"When I made About Schmidt, I didn't feel much better than Schmidt. Same with The Bucket List. When I'd get up in the morning and walk past the mirror, I'd go, oh Jesus! Jack the semi-movie star with that gut sticking out. I'd think, 'Hell, Jack, I don't know if you'll ever come back from this one.' But by then, I was already thinking, 'I don't care.' I'm a lucky man. I'm an independent artist."

His Take on Women
"These issues between men and women are not psychological. Look, remember what a gland is. Most of these are glandular issues. A gland is what allows that mother to lift that truck off a child. Whatever intelligent design is, it's not going to leave the continuation of the human species up to fashion-crazy, flitting mentalities. It's in those glands."

"The infatuation cycle of 18 months hasn't changed a lot since the monkeys. Look at the numbers. Eighteen months is nine months doubled. A woman's entire system is set so that when you're having that procreative act with a woman, you're dealing with a being whose actual cycle is nine months. It doesn't have to do with her brain. It has to do with her entire bodily system, which is there to overcome the brain. We don't legislate this stuff. We don't out-think it. You cannot change these fundamental things that we are as human beings--but you can adjust to it."

His Extraordinary Art Collection
"I just like art. I get pure pleasure from it. I have a lot of wonderful paintings, and every time I look at them I see something different."

"I never thought about paintings as money. I bought only what I could afford at the time. I got involved in buying paintings when Diana Vreeland got me to an auction at Sotheby's in England."

"I know pictures. I've always enjoyed them. And up came this beautiful Tiepolo drawing at the auction house. I bought it for Angelica Huston, as a present. That's how I got started. I've bought things in Sotheby's that I couldn't sell to people for 10 dollars on the sidewalk outside."

Click here to read the entire interview.

Interview with Courtney Love (Telegraph UK)

Who is this smart, put-together woman? Why, it's Courtney Love, formerly the shambolic drug-addled widow of a tragic rock legend, now a sleek Givenchy muse, devout Buddhist and doting mother. But has the chaotic hell-raiser been replaced by a boring model citizen? Not quite, as Nigel Farndale discovers when he meets her.

Courtney Love is 43 and in fine shape. Thanks to Madonna's macrobiotic nutritionist, she is back to a size eight. But her weight yo-yos - 'You have to be thin all the time to make it as an actress,' she says. 'But my rock weight is 20 or 30lb more than my film weight.' She juggles the two careers. 'Performing on stage is like great sex,' she tells me. 'Of course you want to be known for giving the best blowjob in town, but you also want to get yours, too.' She has a new album out in the spring and film projects in the pipeline, trying to regain some of the form she lost since her Golden Globe-nominated role in The People vs Larry Flynt (1996) and her equally good performance in Man on the Moon (1999) opposite Jim Carrey. Actually, it's three careers if you include the fashion thing: 'Givenchy is like me,' she says. 'A legendary brand that has had its ups and downs.'

Love's own childhood had no stability whatsoever. A social-services report details the eight different institutions where she was held in care between 1978 and 1980. Her case folder bore the phrase: 'Parents' whereabouts unknown'. Aged 16, she became a stripper.

Does she consciously avoid repeating the mistakes her own parents made? 'Oh my God, so much. We went to Trudie and Sting's the other night, because Trudie has a daughter who is Franny's age, but it was hard. For one thing, they were going to see the film Control and I wanted to show Frances that she could go out in London without a nanny or a bodyguard, so they went by themselves. I wanted to get her a cake because it is the first time she has gone anywhere on her own. She came back so disturbed because - daaa! - I forgot what the movie was about [the suicide of the lead singer of Joy Division]. Anyway, Sting was there and he was reading his book, and there were all their other kids there who had a mom and a dad, and Franny felt the odd one out.' She wipes her tears. 'I'm sorry. I just want things to be good for her, but she's a lot like me and a lot like her dad. I think she got the best of both of us, so there's that.'

Good cheekbones, I imagine. 'Yeah, she is a very good-looking girl. I don't want to put her in a burka. But I want to protect her from your tabloid press.

Click here to read the entire interview.

Two lives emerged from the ashes

Photo by: David McIntyre
Levi Bentley at age 4 in Langfang, China. He is standing in the field where he was found when he was about 6 weeks old, so badly burned that he wasn't expected to live.

Lisa Misraje Bentley was a bored U.S. homemaker when she reluctantly went to China with her family to open an orphanage. A charred baby boy would change everything.

By John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, December 12, 2007

BEIJING -- Lisa Misraje Bentley watches the boy in the No. 8 jersey as he careens across the soccer field and she marvels. His lower face a mask of scar tissue, his left arm gone at the elbow, the toes on his left foot missing, he zigzags along the green grass in defiance of his disabilities.

"Isn't he happy?" she says. "Look at the joy coming out of him!"

Bentley knows the boy probably should not be alive. Five years ago, he was left for dead in a cornfield, his tiny body so ravaged by fire that the villagers who found him thought he looked more like a charred log than a 6-week-old baby.

Back then, Bentley was new to China. She had come begrudgingly with her four children, following her husband, John, from Washington state. Together, the couple founded a Christian orphanage for special-needs children -- those most at risk in the Chinese child welfare system, which often lacks the resources to meet the demands of the disabled.

They wanted to help the undesirables. And when Bentley first saw the abandoned baby, gasping for breath inside a hospital incubator, she knew she had found perhaps the most undesirable one of all.

What happened next would test the limits of modern medicine and put Bentley in conflict with local customs, laws, national bureaucracies and even her own family.Who could have predicted the impact of one small life in China on a bored suburban homemaker from the Pacific Northwest?

Six years ago, Bentley sat in her four-bedroom home in Vancouver, Wash., and felt like crying. As a stay-at-home mother, she lived the good life: Her husband was a successful lawyer. She was pregnant with her fourth child. There was the minivan and the sports car. Yet she was miserable.

"I thought, 'If this is my life, this stinks,' " she says.

Then came an opportunity. John always had a fascination with China, and had seen his brother start a Christian orphanage in Africa. He wanted to start one in Beijing.

Assured financial backing for one year by a Christian philanthropist, John quit his job and prepared for the journey. Suddenly, the support fell through, but John still wanted to go.Bentley wasn't so sure. She wanted adventure, but China was like another planet. She had no Chinese language skills, and had always had a Woody Allen-like obsession with hygiene. China was no place to take four young children.

"I thought John was insane," she says. "But I said, 'OK, three months.' Then I figured I'd raise hell and we'd come back."

The family's first image of China didn't help. As they landed in Beijing, Bentley's 8-year-old daughter, Emily, looked out the plane window and remarked, "It looks like a trash can."

The couple settled in Langfang, a rural town an hour outside Beijing, and rented a concrete-block home without heat. Bentley remained a mother on guard, listening for the rats that scampered inside the building walls. Both she and John took jobs at a foreign-run orphanage.

No matter how hard she tried to comprehend the culture, China remained mysterious. She had run-ins with local hospital staff and officials, who considered her another pushy American. Bentley didn't fit the image of a Christian aid worker. She's hip and outspoken, likes '60s clothing, and doesn't come on strong with Bible-speak. She didn't connect here, and she wanted to go home.

The ghastly discovery came on a dreary March day in 2002: A badly burned baby was found in a field. A cluster of curious villagers encircled the infant as he wailed in agony. The baby's bright yellow jumper was soaked with blood and body fluids. Someone had carefully tucked a 10-yuan note -- less than $2 -- into his pocket.

One by one, the crowd drifted away. What could be done? The baby was sure to die. Except one old man. He saw that the infant's head had been shaved and a bandage remained where an IV had been inserted.

To read the entire article click here.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

More Friends in the News

Bill & Jill (and Bill's brother) on the cover of City Beat. Enjoying a night out at Bordello in Los Angeles.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

RIP Spundae

This is the flyer for Circus' Hollywood New Year's Eve event. I'm not trying to promote it. In fact I wouldn't be caught dead there. I haven't been back in years since the club did a freefall into "uncool" oblivion. Last I heard the place is a complete dump not known for its music, with an even uncooler crowd (i.e., older Asians dressed in sweat pants) who are painfully obvious about being drugged out of their minds while being annoying, (i.e., talking loudly and falling over themselves). No one wants to be around that.

But when I heard that the Circus location (6655 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038) is going to be torn down and replaced by a condo development...

"2007 - Gene La Pietra says he’s likely to sell his four-acre club compound that includes Circus Disco and Arena for about $62 million. He says the new owners will probably raze the venues and use the land for a mixed-use, housing-and-retail project." - City Beat

...I suddenly had a pang of nostalgia. I have lots of fond memories of the old Giant, and Spundae at the Circus nightclub location. How do you describe a place that was your favorite hangout in your 20's? It's like writing a teenage love letter. It was an immature love that was sappy and full of whimsy. But I loved it.

When I think of that place being torn down, I can't imagine it. The place where I danced with all my friends on the giant dance floor, smiling and nodding to one another and getting sweaty. The place with the awesome outdoor area where we sat under the stars and laughed, and had what we thought were deep conversations. The place where I would long to go back the entire week after feeling abused Monday through Friday at a grueling office job. The place where I felt the most alive in my 20's and felt I was sharing something momentous with everyone around me. How can that place be torn down and vanish forever? The demolition of this nightclub symbolizes the end of an era for me and fills me with sadness and longing.

My house in the canyon was the meeting place where a group of friends would gather, have dinner, play charades, listen to music, and finally get ready at that friendly hour of 10. Then we would pack up in 2-3 cars and head out in typical LA swingers style (the movie, not the lifestyle) all following one another to the same location, always almost missing the exit. (I only remember this little trivia because last week driving that same direction I almost missed the same exit and my husband reminded me that we always used to miss it back in the day.) We found a coveted parking spot in the residential streets that only locals knew about. The night was full of promise.

The bouncers would stare at my ID and at my face double checking to make sure I wasn't underage. Oh those were the days! It used to annoy me to no end, but now I never get carded which reminds me that I now look my age.

Someone once said that I had a posse. I laughed at the ridiculousness of it. But looking back whenever we went out, we were surrounded by friends. Friends that dressed up like Devo to the club one year for Halloween just because it was a dream of mine. Traveling in a posse we always made sure everyone was okay, that everyone was safe (hey it was Hollywood 10 years ago), and everyone had a good time.

When we got too hot we would go outside. When we got too cold we'd go inside. When we had to pee we'd stand in a long line outside the restroom with a view of the dance floor. Although even this little chore was sometimes fodder for random entertainment. Oh the characters in that place! Life is sometimes stranger than fiction.

I started going there when I wasn't even a bride yet. I introduced my then boyfriend to this new frontier. He loved the electronic dance music and later became an expert on EDM. I enjoyed the music, but loved the whole experience even more. In the end I came away with a husband, that same boy I introduced this scene to and we've grown up together over the years (new careers, purchased a home together, had a daughter together, enjoy Yoga together). Some of the same friends now are married, have kids, are homeowners, moved away, are big wigs at corporations, and one is a crime writer for a newspaper. There's also one friend who I learned was murdered and as far as I know the case remains unsolved. We had not been in contact for many moons, but his death still haunts me. Everyone loved Mikey. I think of writing his mother a letter and sending her a photo of Mikey in happier days surrounded by his friends in the outdoor courtyard of the same club, with a big smile on his face.

When I heard the news of the demolition plans, the pang in my heart made my mouth ask my husband if he was interested in going there one last time with me before it gets torn down. His response? "No way! Believe me Rose, it's better that you have a memory of the club from when we went there. You don't want to see it for what it is now - a dump." I know he's right. In memory everything seems cleaner and nicer and more fun. But it is the end of an era and I can't help feeling a bit sad and nostalgic at the same time.

I Love LA

The video above was created using shots of LA and follows the songs lyrics. The creator is beating his/herself up over not including Dodger Stadium (but he/she did include another ballpark - Angel Stadium).

It warms my heart to hear this "I Love LA" song by Randy Newman played after sporting events in LA. It stirs up my love of LA, the city I grew up in and love. Plus it also means that the LA team won. Yay!

Today I had one of those euphoric "I Love LA" moments. I was sitting in the park with my daughter after shopping for fresh produce at the local farmer's market. The sun was shining on a beautiful LA winter day. I was eating a tamale, and wearing my flip flops (after Yoga), and just so happy and thankful to be living in LA, and not anywhere else in the world (aka it's still warm here and we have blue skies even in December).

Ever read the lyrics?
(Don't know if I agree with people in NY dressing like monkeys - but the rest he got right.)

Hate New York City
It's cold and it's damp
And all the people dressed like monkeys
Let's leave Chicago to the Eskimos
That town's a little bit too rugged
For you and me you bad girl

Rollin' down the Imperial Highway
With a big nasty redhead at my side
Santa Ana winds blowin' hot from the north
And we was born to ride

Roll down the window put down the top
Crank up the Beach Boys baby
Don't let the music stop
We're gonna ride it till we just can't ride it no more

>From the South Bay to the Valley
>From the West Side to the East Side
Everybody's very happy
'Cause the sun is shining all the time
Looks like another perfect day

I love L.A. (We love it)
I love L.A. (We love it)

Look at that mountain
Look at those trees
Look at that bum over there, man
He's down on his knees
Look at these women
There ain't nothin' like 'em nowhere

Century Boulevard (We love it)
Victory Boulevard (We love it)
Santa Monica Boulevard (We love it)
Sixth Street (We love it, we love it)

I love L.A.
I love L.A.
(We love it)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Quirky tour of historical Downtown Los Angeles

"Charles Phoenix is a 'histo-tainer" best known for his retro slideshows using other people's vintage slides."

According to Charles Phoenix, "Downtown Los Angeles is the most misunderstood downtown in the entire world."

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Prince (cool bar in K-town) & Soot Bul Jeep (Korean BBQ)

The Prince
3198 W Seventh Street
Los Angeles, CA 90005
A former British hotel/bar in Korea Town now with Korean owners but never remodeled (thank goodness!). It has the eerie charm of a once posh downtown bar now rundown with all the old furnishings, paintings, and general decor in place.

And if that's not enough to motivate you to drive out to K-town, maybe this will - the Korean bar food (an entire menu of items!). Authentic down to the $20 dried squid, that goes oh so well with drinks. It's hell to pull apart and doesn't look very lady like, lucky for me my husband did the honors while I chomped away, but oh so delicious!

The bar's patrons included hipsters and alcoholics alike. Bottles of Remy Martin line one side of the bar.

The prices are on the high end (a dirty martini is $12), but there's the old/cool factor without being too divey that's enticing, and I have to say again the authentic Korean bar food is da bomb. I'll be back and I'm taking friends with me for bragging rights to having found & experienced a cool, unique bar.

Soot Bul Jeep
3136 W 8th Street
Los Angeles, CA, 90005

We went here after our cocktails, just because it's within walking distance (a block away) from The Prince, but then we realized we had been here before. As soon as we sat down, we remembered why we never came back.

They use real wood for charcoal which can be very nice, but here it's extremely hot and dangerous as a result of cheap grills and poor protection. The whole trying to avoid 3rd degree burns while grilling your chicken isn't any fun. The grill is so hot in fact that if you leave your meat on one side for a tad too long it turns black. I couldn't help thinking of all the carcinogens we were eating. Another downside is they skimp on the number and variety of the side dishes.

After dinner, you come out feeling barbequed yourself and in need of a shower to get the smell out of your hair.

The food was cheap (our bar tab was more than our dinner), but the food just isn't that good and the experience is terrible.

When I declared it was the last time I'd eat here my husband responded, "Honey, last time was our last time. We just didn't realize it was the same place."

Nothing says Christmas in LA better than good holiday shopping music

Wham - "Last Christmas"
Back when George Michael was teamed up with Andrew Ridgeley to choose life while pretending to be a girl toy.

You can't avoid hearing this song this holiday season. It's being played in every store and mall around. Thankfully I enjoy hearing the song so I don't mind.

Here's another good one:

Mariah Carey - "All I Want For Christmas"
The video is a tribute to Johnny Depp, so it's more watchable.

And can't forget my childhood favorite:
Alvin and The Chipmunks - "The Christmas Song"
I remember slowing down the speed of my record player to hear their real voices. Every cool kid on the block was doing it and talking about it to be "in the know".

I recently saw a billboard for their new movie, "Alvin!!!" and was surprised they still have a following. Or will it be the adults dragging their kids to see it?