May 19, 2012

Trip Recap.

I'm sure my thousands of readers have been busting at the seams to hear about my trip to L.A., so I shall make you wait no longer.

All in all, it was a good trip.  Weather was as predicted:  full sun and about 72 every day with zero humidity.  Which I'm fairly confident is what it's like there almost every single day of the year.  It's nice when you're visiting, but it would be weird to live in a climate that doesn't have much change or variation.  Where I live, there is an old saying - "You don't like the weather?  Just wait about an hour".  Or something like that.  It's true.  My friends and family who are transplants there all say they miss the variance in weather. 

Looking at my last post, I realized I did all the things I set out to do, and didn't get to do the one thing that was in question (motorcycle ride).  The first day I was there I took a great hike at a place called Chantry Flats, which is in the Sierra Madre area of L.A.  It was woodsy, which I appreciated, because the sun is so goddamn potent there it's like I can feel the melanoma coming to life as it hits my skin.  The reward at the end of the trail is a lovely waterfall.  Here are some pics:






The main reason for this trip was to see my nephew graduate from college.  He's a great kid and although I might be a tad biased, he's unbelievably talented.  I remember when he was 9 I got a gift from him, which was a poem he wrote.  If I had it nearby I'd post it, because you would never believe a 9 year old wrote something so deep and rich.  He graduated from USC's film school and I expect one day will be a famous screenwriter.  I hope so, because I've already informed him he must take care of me when I'm older. 

I actually went to two graduation ceremonies for my nephew.  The main one for the whole school, and a smaller one for the film school.  It was a long day.  The first one was huge and there were people all over the place.  It was on campus and we ended up having to stand, but that was ok because it made for a more casual setting where we could do lots of people-watching and chatting throughout the ceremony to pass the time.  L.A. is perhaps the most superb place to people-watch that I've found thus far.  First off, I enjoy the star factor and I have my radar eyes on full-alert for the rich and famous when I'm there, which adds an exciting element.  Second, there are a lot of really fake, plastic people there and they are always interesting to look at.  Third, there is a high cheese factor in L.A. in general.  Fourth, anything goes in L.A. and so you have a lot of unique individuals.  I only had a disappointing three brushes with fame while in L.A., and the first two were at the main graduation.  The first wasn't all that exciting and I was a bit reluctant to even acknowledge to anyone around me that I knew who he was.  This will probably mean nothing to any of you, as it well shouldn't, but it was one of the twins who plays one of the twin sons of Lynette and Tom on Desperate Housewives.  His character name is Parker or Porter.  Can't tell them apart on the show and I couldn't in person so I'm not sure which one I saw.  I was surprised by how small and slight he was.  On the show they both look beefy.  I guess that goes to show how tiny Lynette/Felicity Huffman must be.  I didn't get a pic of him, as he breezed by me pretty quickly.  Sorry to disappoint you.

The next star sighting was much more exciting.  Exciting to me and my sister-in-law, anyway.  It was Jimmy Iovine, famous music producer and head of Geffen Records.  He is also currently on American Idol serving as a mentor.  I love Jimmy.  And he knows his shit.  He's the best part of American Idol, along with Steven Tyler, of course.  Yes, I watch that show too.  I watch A LOT of bad television.  In my defense, though, I don't have cable.  We actually had two Jimmy sightings, about an hour apart.  The second one I was a bit more prepared for with camera in hand, and I was able to get a shot of him passing by.  In person he looks EXACTLY like he does on Idol.  Down to the hat.  He was very friendly and greeting those who reached out and taking pics with a few who asked.  We were too chicken to ask, despite my sister-in-law practically screaming, "There's Jimmy! It's Jimmy!".


On Saturday evening my nephew picked me up two hours late because he's ADD like that, and we headed to Amoeba Music in Hollywood, where we met up with two good friends of mine who live in L.A.  After exchanging hugs, we all dispersed and proceeded to record shop for the next two hours before reuniting in the checkout lanes.  That place is awesome.  They had the best Rap section for albums I've ever seen in my life.  Huge.  You might recall me bitching in previous posts about how hard it is to find a good selection of Rap albums.  While soaking in the Amoeba experience, I decided that in my retirement I want to work at a record store.  At Amoeba, they have "experts" assigned to work the various music genres.  After much internal debate, I determined my expert genre would have to be the 80's.  I think I'm most confident in my knowledge of all the subgenres of that era.  Only problem:  Amoeba didn't have an 80's section, so I guess I'll have to take my expert knowledge somewhere else.



After Amoeba and then dinner, my nephew headed on his own way and my friends and I headed down Sunset Blvd. to my favorite bar in the whole wide world, The Rainbow Bar and Grill.  Upon entering, we saw a familiar face from last year when I was there.  This guy:


I didn't get a pic this time, as he was leaving as I was arriving, but he still had the face paint going and was still smoking that electronic cigarette.  This is why I love the Rainbow.

Unfortunately Lemmy was not there, as I was informed he is on tour again and they don't expect him back until August.  I decided next time I will not wear my Motörhead t-shirt, as I believe it's a jinx.  Although Lemmy wasn't there, I did have my third brush with fame that night:


No, that's not Tanning Mom, that's porn star Ron Jeremy.  As you can see I have blacked myself out so as not to be all over the Internets, but I tried to do so with a nice shade of tan that would compliment Ron's excessive, bad faux glow.  He's just as smarmy and skeevy looking in person as you would expect.  He wasn't overly friendly but he was nice enough and very accommodating considering I was interrupting his evening.  He even sucked it up and smiled for the pic.

We pretty much closed down the Rainbow that night, then went back to my pal's to crash and sat around and talked until 3:30am.  The next day was perfectly leisurely as a result.  Did our usual brisket sandwich lunch at the best deli in the world, Canter's.  Look at the size of these sandwiches waiting to be whisked away from the kitchen (please ignore sucky Red Sox hat):



One other thing I did while in L.A.:


Had the best tortilla soup of my life while sitting in a historic, picturesque Mexican village in downtown L.A, complete with roaming mariachi bands.  It reminded me a little bit of my favorite childhood TV show on PBS.  A show that somehow I watched regularly and adored and still think about, yet have never found one other person who remembers it or watched it.  Not even my oldest friends that I grew up with.  This phenomenon got to be so strange that I began questioning my own memory and if the show truly existed.  Wondering if perhaps I created Villa Allegre in my head because of my weird obsession with the Hispanic cultures at a very early age.  But then over the years the Internet came along, and then Google came along, and lo and behold I had tangible proof that Villa Allegre indeed existed (although oddly, there is very little proof and virtually no video).  You have no idea how much I wanted to live and breathe that town as a child.  Hell, I'd still like to.  There is no question that I was Hispanic in another life.  At all. 



Do any of you remember Villa Allegre?  It looked a bit like the picture above but with sparklers and pinwheels and lights and colorful flags all over the place.  And music.  And the natives always dressed in their fancy, colorful wares.  It was always a happy party in that town.  Hence, the name.  And hence why I wanted to live there.  Great show.

May 6, 2012

Recovering.

Well, I'm feeling a tad better since my last post, thanks to a 7.5 hour margarita-fueled Cinco de Mayo, complete with awesome Mexican snacks, an exciting Kentucky Derby, and topped off with a spectacular Supermoon.  I wore one of my Beastie Boys shirts, of course, brought a homemade Beastie Boys compilation CD for the festivities, and we pretty much paid homage to MCA all night long.  There's something to be said for self-medicating.  It helps, even if momentarily.  Especially margaritas, for some reason. 

I wish MCA could've been there with me to see that Supermoon last night.  It was spectacular!  At about 7:45 or so we all went outside to watch.  The moon was just under/behind some trees on the horizon, it's blinding light shining through the leaves.  It was the strangest thing...it began to rise so quickly you could literally see it happening.  It was like lightening, this Supermoon!  I've never seen anything like it.  Can someone out there explain this phenomenon for me?  Because I'm too lazy to look it up.  I'm guessing, though, that because it's closer and therefore "bigger", it appears to move/rise more quickly.  I'm sticking with that unless someone tells me otherwise.  Anyway, I hope you caught that moon because she was a beauty.  Big and fat and perfectly round.  So big you could see all the shadows and craters better than usual, and eventually so bright it was blinding.  My view had a lovely halo around it, thanks to the unseasonable heat and 99% humidity.  I wish it was always a full Supermoon.  It makes me feel good.  One thing you don't know about me is that I have a serious love for the moon.  I feel connected to it.  I feel comforted by it's presence in the sky, just as I feel ill at ease when she's not there.  Is it strange that I feel this personal connection?  I'm not sure why this is, although perhaps the fact that I was born as mankind was about to land on the moon might have something to do with it.  My mom was watching it all go down on television as she was birthin' me.  And I happen to be a Cancer, who they say are ruled by the moon.  You can poo poo astrology all you want.  I wouldn't run my life by it, but there is some science to it that cannot be ignored.  That moon is a powerful thing.

I'm off to L.A. this week for a visit with some family and friends and hopefully, better weather.  It's been goddamn hot and humid at home, and it's been a lovely, non-humid-70ish every day in L.A. lately.  I'll be there about a week, and the only specific plans I have are as follows:  see my super-awesome nephew graduate from college, go record shopping with said nephew at Amoeba Records in Hollywood, hang out at the Rainbow Bar and Grill on Saturday night and hopefully run into Lemmy, and take a hike (literally, not figuratively).  Oh, and eat food at some point at Canter's Deli.  I'm hoping a motorcycle ride with my friend might be in the cards, but that is yet to be determined. 

Having had the Beastie Boys on the brain the past few days, I revisited their video for Make Some Noise, off their last album.  They did an extended 30-minute video for the song, which was directed by MCA and basically a sequel to their video for (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party). It is a classic Beastie Boys tale involving crazy shenanigans, ridiculous scenarios, and the police, of course.  The Beasties make only a brief appearance as the cops, and there are countless cameos.  It's worth 30 minutes of your time if you appreciate the Beasties at all.

May 4, 2012

Mourning.



It is with a very heavy heart and tears in my eyes that I write this post.  My beloved MCA, Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, died of cancer today.  I shouldn't be in shock, but I am.  When he was first diagnosed, the Beasties sent emails regularly about his progress in treatment.  They stopped updating several months ago, and since the last update was a good one, I took that to mean he was doing well.  Now this.

There is nothing to say that would be enough.  MCA was my favorite Beastie, although I love them all.  I even dated him once in a dream (no sex), and he was an awesome boyfriend.  This man, simply put, was a musical genius.  All 3 of them, for that matter.  Pioneers of hip-hop despite their Whiteness and Jewishness (although he ended up Buddhist).  Some of the quickest, funniest, funkiest hip-hop to ever hit the planet.  Lyrics as silly as they are serious at times.  Many don't know even know about all the work he did as a producer, director, and activist.  Even if you don't particularly like their music, if you don't understand their greatness, then you don't understand the Beastie Boys.  I won't hold it against you, as we all have different brains, but I will say I'm sorry you missed out.

I am devastated that I never saw them live.  In their heyday it seemed they never came to where I was living, and/or I didn't have the money (hello, college).  In 2007 I finally had the chance when they toured for the first time in years for the album The Mix Up.  That was a unique album for them because it was an instrumental, but still somehow familiar and a superb nod to their funky roots.  That tour didn't hit many cities and my best option at the time was to fly to L.A. if I wanted to see them.  After several days of agonizing deliberation (I'm not exaggerating), for various reasons, I decided not to go.  I said to my L.A. friend at the time, "I'm not sure why, but I have a bad feeling I'm going to regret this for the rest of my life".  I can't explain it, but I said it.  And that is why it was so agonizing, because something told me I needed to go but I allowed logic to get in the way.  WHY don't I listen to my gut 100% of the time??  It's always fucking right.

MCA, I will miss you terribly.  And I will miss the Beasties just as much, because even if they continue, they will never be the same without you.  This is the end of an era.  Since you're a Buddhist, then perhaps I will greet you someday in another life.  But I hope for now, you are in a peaceful place hangin' with one of your inspirations, Jam Master Jay.  The two of you together are probably mixing some nasty beats and rhymes as I type.