June 28, 2011

Jinx.

Well, apparently I jinxed myself by talking about all my prior brushes with fame before heading to L.A., because this trip I didn't see anyone.  Well, I take that back.  I saw George Lopez, but not randomly out in public- I went to a taping of his show Lopez Tonight.  My friend's wife works in "the business" and was able to get me, my niece and nephew VIP tickets to a taping (not much is taping right now).  All I knew about George Lopez prior to going to his show was the following: he was born American but is of Mexican descent, and he took one of his wife's kidneys when his failed, then proceeded to cheat on her multiple times and leave her soon thereafter.  So basically, I knew the guy was an ass.  I had never seen any of his shows and I wasn't even sure if I he was funny.  It ends up he's not.  He did make me genuinely laugh a couple of times, but most of the time I had to fake it.  Before the show we were instructed that we needed to laugh at everything, all the time, whether we got the joke or not.  I got a D in drama in high school for a reason, so it was not easy for me to pretend to find him funny 90% of the time, but I did my best.  He fucked up the first segment, the monologue, so many times that it took forever.  Long enough that my face literally hurt and was getting cramps from trying to fake laugh and smile for so long over and over.  Keep in mind I was in VIP seats, which found me 3rd row center and I could be on camera at any time (luckily I wasn't, other than the back of my head).  Despite the fake laugh effort that had me feeling like I was working when I was supposed to be enjoying a relaxing vacation, it was fun to see that show.  It's interesting to see what goes into such a production, and then when I watched later that night, I was amazed by how it all comes together so seamlessly.  Oh, and I am pretty sure that George Lopez was buzzing on some cocaine when he first came out and did the monologue.  He was sweating profusely despite it feeling like a meat locker in the studio, his hands were shaking, he was jumpy, and he kept fucking up, as if his brain was working too fast for his mouth.  I kept this opinion to myself though, as I waited to see how he was for the rest of the show.  Ends up he got calmer as the show went on, stopped sweating completely, and his hand shaking ceased.  I guess it could've been nerves, but as far as I'm concerned, he was coked up.  You heard it here first, people (and TMZ).  He also came off as an arrogant jerk who views women as objects.  But hey, it was fun.

Saturday night I hit the Sunset Strip and my pals and I went to my beloved Rainbow Bar and Grill.  We ended up scoring a prime table out on the patio right by the door, so I was armed and ready if Lemmy showed up.  I even wore my Motorhead t-shirt, just in case.  Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be, but there was plenty to make up for that.  Always a diverse crowd there.  Here are some samples:


Sorry for the blur.  Was trying to be incognito and fucked up.  I loved these two.  They might've been trying hard, but they looked awesome and pulled it off in every way. 

There are always awesome mohawks to be found at the Rainbow.

And lots of guys like this.
This guy clearly wanted to be noticed, and was more than happy to pose for me.

I also went to a chalk art festival while I was in L.A.  I love when I just happen to stumble upon some great chalk art.  It doesn't happen often, but it's happened to me a few times in life, and I always appreciate it.  This event I had planned to go to, and it did not disappoint.  There were probably a hundred+ artists total.  Here are two of my favorites:

Those unforgettable eyes on that beautiful National Geographic girl.  Well done, chalk artist lady.


My main man, Jimi.
Once my hangover from Saturday night subsided, thanks to the help of a delicious beef brisket sandwich au jus from Canter's Deli, I went to my friend's place in Venice Beach to hang.  That evening after we had a BBQ feast, we walked a block to get ice cream (I highly recommend Peanut Butter Perfection from Cold Stone Creamery), then walked another block back to the beach.  Yes, he's that close.  I then ate my ice cream like a kid who's been deprived while watching the sunset on the beach, which I shall now share since you could not be there with me.


All in all it was a good trip, albeit short.  Didn't get to do a few things I wanted to do (motorcycle ride up the PCH into Malibu/missed seeing a couple of friends), but I guess seeing George Lopez made up for that. 

Not really. 

June 14, 2011

Going Back to Cali.

I'm gonna make like LL Cool J this week, 'cause I'm going back to Cali, folks.  I'll be visiting some friends and family in the L.A. area for about a week, and I'm very much looking forward to the cooler temps and low humidity/good hair days.  I've been to L.A. several times, so my trips are typically about spending time with people, more so than seeing sights or laying on the beach.  One of my friends lives in West Hollywood and I usually stay with him a few nights and we hit The Strip.  Some scoff at this, but I can't help myself.  Yes, it's crowded, trendy in spots (I try not to go to those), and there are lots of industry wanna-bes and people who are trying too hard.  But the people-watching is simply spectacular.  In addition, I fully admit I'm a sucker for brushes with greatness.  "Greatness" being used very loosely here.  When I'm in L.A., I turn on my famous-person-radar and I'm on high alert at all times.  I can't help it - we don't have many famous people roaming around amongst the masses where I come from (although I did see Phyllis from The Office once at Target.  She gave me The Nod).  When you're on Sunset, it's almost a guarantee to see somebody.  It may not be who you're hoping for (Nikki Sixx), and most often is someone you don't particularly care about or like at all, but it'll give you a story to take home.  My absolute favorite bar in the whole world, The Rainbow, is located on Sunset.  Going to the Rainbow is always on my must-do list while in L.A.  It may not look very exciting, but this place has a very rich rock 'n' roll history and there is not a bad time to be had there.  The place is filled with all sorts of people, but primarily rockers of all ages, shapes and forms.  There will be famous rockers, struggling unknown rockers, old worn out rockers, and regular folks like myself who like to rock their face off.  Lots of black.  Lots of piercings and tattoos.  Very dimly lit.  Usually bands who are playing at nearby venues The Roxy, Whisky a Go Go, and the Viper Room will show up either before or after their show and take over one of the big, red, circular booths inside the restaurant, scantily clad groupies in tow, just as you'd expect.  Last time I was there I saw all of L.A. Guns boozing it up just prior to their show at the Whisky, which I attended.  I also think I saw Five Finger Death Punch there once, but I'm still not sure about that.  In as much as I like a brush with fame, I rarely approach such people.  I would hate to be famous, so I figure it would be annoying to have people bothering you all the time.  Plus, why bother when it's usually someone you aren't excited about?  If it were someone cool and awesome, I get too nervous to approach them anyway.  Don't ask me why, it's senseless, and is contrary to my normally extroverted, assertive self.  Additionally, I don't want to look like a star-struck Midwestern tourist, even if I am.  I gotsta play it cool, people.  So, I am the person who will instead stare and try to take photos inconspicuously from afar.  Unfortunately, these moments are usually hard to catch on film, either because I can't do so without being obvious, or because the moment happens too fast.  At the Rainbow I have also seen, but have no photo proof of:  Lemmy, Deryck Whibley, and Nick Nolte (who was wasted, had on a fedora, and stumbled into us as we were leaving and he was coming in).   I also saw Jimmy Fallon there, and this one I have proof of, although admittedly not the greatest.  It's all about not being obvious.

Exhibit A.  I think you know which one is Jimmy.

Exhibit B.
I still regret not getting a photo with Lemmy when I saw him years ago, so every time I go back to the Rainbow I hope that the universe gives me another chance.  It's his hangout, you know.  He purposely moved within blocks of there years ago.  If I get that chance, I will somehow find a way to conquer my fear, tell Lemmy I love him like a stupid fool, and get that damn photo I should've gotten years ago with the two of us looking all chummy drinking whiskey.  Even though I hate whiskey. 

Speaking of famous run-ins, I just talked to my friend in Hollywood this weekend to discuss my trip, and he had a great story about Andy Dick approaching both him and his friend (separately, several minutes apart) in the bathroom of a random neighborhood sports bar last week.  In both cases he wasn't even using the facilities, just standing around in there, and in both cases he asked them if they wanted to do some coke with him.  Could there be any story more "L.A." than that?  Classic. 

After a night on the town, we usually fuel up the next day at what is perhaps the best deli ever - Canter's.  Except for once, I have always ordered the beef brisket sandwich there.  It is highly delicious and there is rarely a drop of that au jus left.  I'll drink it before letting it go to waste. 


I ate it all.  Not the fries, though.


Also on the agenda for this trip is hitting up the Venice Beach area, where another friend who I've known since grade school lives.  Just to give you an idea of his character, on one visit with him, I spied this on his calendar: 

I guess his plan failed.
It's rather fun to hang out at Venice Beach, as there is no shortage of interesting humans or crazy shenanigans.  Also no shortage of drug paraphernalia for sale.  With all that to offer, I can see why Jim Morrison spent a lot of time there.  Oh, and this reminds me of a brush with greatness I had once in Venice Beach.  I was sitting outside at a cafe eating breakfast, when an older, seemingly intoxicated homeless man got stopped by the cops while walking in the street right in front of me.  He had a 40 oz. in a brown bag, so I assume they were trying to nab him on that.  Not much really happened other than the guy being frisked, throughout which he was grabbing for the beer on the hood of the car, which he was concerned would slide off.  Which was rather funny to me but the cops were not so easily amused.  The host at the restaurant came and apologized for the annoyance, which was kind but as I told him unnecessary, and in the process he informed me that the homeless man was none other than Henry Hill.  And once he said that, I realized indeed that I was in the presence of Mafia royalty.  He looked bad, very bad.  This was obviously years after he was kicked out of the witness protection program and had no money, no friends, got divorced, and became a homeless alcoholic for a while - living on and around the Venice Beach area, as I learned.

So yeah, that's probably more than any of you need to know about my trip.  Especially any stalkers I might have out there in the world.

When you hear from me again, let's hope I'm refreshed, relaxed, and and armed with some good stories.

June 4, 2011

Pain In My Ass.

If anyone's reading this here blog, you might have noticed I haven't been posting too often, nor have I been as consistent as I usually am about visiting other blogs.  Why, you ask?  Because of goddamn computer problems.  To make a long story somewhat shorter, I started having issues with my home computer at least a couple of months ago.  First I had trouble connecting to the internet on a regular basis, then it gradually got slower and slower, then it started freezing up on certain sites I'd previously gone to regularly, then things started changing by themselves, like my screen looking all streched out and slightly distorted.  There's more, but I wouldn't know how to begin to explain.  Every time I went to my own blog, in addition to several others and other random sites, my computer would freeze up.  I did some things to try and remedy it, consulted with a some people, but the weirdness continued.  Not only that, but it got weirder and more frequent.  I finally decided I'd better do something about it before it completely crapped out on me.  The result?  An apparently evil virus and a VERY EXPENSIVE repair.  One that made me tear up a little.  It's still in the shop and I'll probably get it back on Monday.  In the meantime, at least I have my work laptop, which always comes home with me.  It's a decent computer, but it has this plug-in wireless internet connection thingy that, although quite convenient if I'm out and about for work, is very slow.  Hence, why I have been absent.  We're short on patience here at KATN.  Apparently the universe doesn't want me to have money, because every time I start to get ahead, something seems to go wrong that requires sucking large sums of my cash.  It makes me feel like I'm the victim of a cruel joke over and over.  I'm sure I'm not alone in this feeling. 

In other news, I went to a record store yesterday and found the album I've been seeking for years now - the soundtrack for the Muppet Movie.  It's in great condition and only cost me $8.  I had it as a kid and wore that thing out.  At some point once I became an angst-ridden teenager, I got rid of some older childhood albums I guess I felt I had outgrown - the Muppet Movie soundtrack being one of them.  I'm sure at the time I didn't think I'd ever want to hear Kermit singing about rainbows ever again, because I was too busy listening to Grim Reaper tell me "see you in hell".  I've been buying albums here and there over the past several years when I happen to come upon a good find, but up until now have been unsuccessful at finding the Muppet Movie soundtrack, so I feel like I've struck gold.  I have a huge crate of albums so full that you literally could not fit one more in there.  There's probably at least 150 in there.  It's a great vinyl collection of superb new wave, punk, classic rock, early metal, and hair metal.  Now I just need a record player.  Sigh.  Oh, and speaking of the Muppets, the new movie is scheduled to be released early - on Thanksgiving now as opposed to Christmas.  Yeah!

The other good news around here is that thus far, I have managed to escape the cicadas.  For whatever reason they haven't visited my fine city yet, they only seem to be out in the burbs.  I have not seen even one cicada.  Yesterday when I drove to the burbs to drop off my computer, once I passed a certain point on the highway, it was like someone flipped a switch and turned on the cicadas.  They were so loud, I could hear them with my window closed.  This was maybe only 4 miles from my house.  Are they skipping the city this time around, or are they creeping my way?  Please be the former, universe.  You are already raping me with this computer problem.