Archive for October, 2010

Day of the Dead

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

I had a wonderful time at the Day of the Dead festival today in Los Angeles, but ironically there has been quite a bit of death around me lately.  My friend Dee lost her husband after a painful bout with cancer.  I was just told that my new pal Reggie Boyd, guitar player extrordinaire, has had a long term kidney illness take a turn for the worse.  There is a real possibility he will not survive and is heading to the Bay Area to get his affairs in order.  My dear friend Jessica had a close friend take his own life.*  All in the span of a few days.

My own relationship with death and dying is not an easy one.  I fear it.  I am sometimes paralyzed by my fear of it.  I had a dream when I was seventeen and in that dream I witnessed my own death. Ironically, I was at an advanced aged and the passing itself was calm and painless, but with all the drama inherent with being a seventeen year old girl I panicked. I had heard an urban myth that if you dream your death you will die immediately in your sleep.  Even though all evidence pointed to the contrary (ie the fact that I woke up) I spent months in a state of clenched anxiety, waiting for the reaper to come for me or my family.

I know this is a process, and a natural one.  I know my lifelong atheism offers no comfort for this stage in the game.  I know that you cannot rail against the inevitable tides of time.  Ask not for whom the bell tolls, and all that sort of thing.  But I see the hurt and the anguish of those left behind and it inspires an even greater fear in me.   Will I leave my mark?  Will I slip gentle into the dark passage with nary a ripple?  I am obstinate and willful and fight against all the things that anger me.  This is a fight I cannot win.  Does it get easier to accept?  I guess I will find out in due time.

*If you want to read a beautiful testimony to love and a refusal to judge the human condition written by a real writer, check out Jessica’s homage to her friend M.

Happy Accidents

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

I spend a great deal of time when I am in Los Angeles scouring the newspaper,  the local indie rags and various web sites to find new and interesting things to do during the week.  I like to think I am auditioning the city.  Today I had a few hours to spend after a delightful breakfast with the lovely Christine, in from Toronto.  I thought about wandering along Melrose but for some reason I decided to set my sights to the east and went to visit the Hollywood Forever cemetery on Santa Monica Blvd.  I have been there once before to check out the crypts of Douglas Fairbanks and the like but my camera battery died so there were no pictures to be taken.  What I did NOT realize was that the Hollywood Forever cemetery plays host to the annual Dia de los Muertos Festival.  Los Angeles has an enormous Latino population (in fact, they are the majority in the under 18 age category) and this day is a special one for their culture.  I arrived right at the beginning of the festivities, wandered in and found a playground of art and altars and food and families.

There were the most amazing art exhibits – altars dedicated to specific family members who had passed on.

There was some remarkable (and saucy) art

There were dancers with shells around their ankles that rattled like bones when they moved with exquisite headdresses

There were whole families turned out as the dead

Some of the costumes were just incredible

And the air was … festive.  Everyone seemed truly overjoyed to be involved.  There was music and cooking and dancing and singing.  There was also a great deal of tequila on the ready, so who knows what transpired once the sun went down.

A day with the dead.  I didn’t know it could be so lively.

Pillaging the Art World

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

I have been very remiss in updating this page, but here I am.  I have just rounded out the week having attended the Billboard Music publishing seminar.  It was moderately interesting, especially listening to Stewart Copeland refer to his tenure in the Police as “Hell On Earth”.  I have been meeting with publishers and generally glad handing my way about town.

I retire at the end of the schmooze to my little Pixie palace, for which I am growing more entranced by the day.  Last week I went to the Melrose flea market and picked me up a little buddha to guard my surroundings.  A chipped nose brought the purchase price to $10.  What’s a little nasal blemish between friends?

I also got into a little haggling match with a vendor over these two little oil paintings.  I am not sure why I like them so.  I guess I like the sense of permanence yet with progress. (I suspect they are paintings of the same scene done at two different periods – the buildings and foliage in the background change and the light standard turns into a hydro pole but the corner wall remains)

For all you all you artists out there I learned a valuable lesson.  While I was busy pillaging the art world and dragging the final price of these pieces from the princely sum of $20 down to a more reasonable $15 per the vendor informed me that “They are signed.  That’s how you tell they are good”.  So there you go.  Don’t forget to sign your work otherwise no one will be able to tell it is worth something.

Little pad is coming together.  And open for visitors …


Monday, October 25th, 2010

So, I had me a little dilemma over the weekend.  I received a notice that Janeane Garofalo was playing the the Little Room at Largo.  The same night my friend Robi was playing at the Whiskey A-Go-Go with a guy called Zack Dust, whose record he just produced.  Tough call.  I am a huge fan of Janeane and the Little Room only holds 60 people, so the show would be an extremely intimate one.  The Whiskey is a legendary club (although it really is exactly like the Horseshoe Tavern only on 2 levels and nary a good site line to be found).  Zack is a talented singer songwriter from Croatia.  Janeane is a brilliant comedienne.

I decided that overall it would be a better idea to support local and upcoming talent, and that a fledging career like Zack’s would benefit more from my presence than would a well established person such as Ms Garofalo and  …

who the hell am I kidding really?

Did I mention that Zack looks like this?

Yep, a beautiful, talented, extremely polite Balkan babe with a kicky little accent and the voice of an angel.  Once the cougar-perv in me weighed the odds, no coin toss was necessary.

My frequent bouts of shallow never cease to amaze me.

The concert was excellent.

Robi on the left, Zack on the right.

Remember Where You Are

Monday, October 25th, 2010

The other day I was walking along Melrose Avenue and I stumbled across the LA Eyeworks annual sale.  LA Eyeworks is (as you may imagine) an eyeglasses store that sells super funky beautiful glasses at usurious prices.  Once a year they unload their frames at seriously reduced figures (Like $350 marked down to $35).  I went in to load up on sunglasses as to date I don’t require regular lenses, although I have begun to suffer what I suspect is a case of “shrinking arm syndrome” as I have to hold menus further and further away from my body in order to read them.  While in the very crowded store I bumped into a tall blond woman in her 40s who was trying on glasses.  She looked very familiar, so I asked her if she was Canadian.  She explained she was NOT, but she came from an area where a good many Acadians had landed in their migration south so perhaps her intonation was one that I recognized.  Later on I realized that I was in Hollywood, so she probably looked familiar because she was a bloody actress and I had put my foot in it by not recognizing her.  And, of course, she was.  An actress named Heidi Swedberg, most famous for having played George Costanza’s ill fated fiancee on “Seinfeld” for a year or so.

So I must remind myself that if I am hanging around in Hollywood California, TV and film production centre of North America, and someone looks familiar there is a good chance I think so because they danced around in front of me on a screen rather than because they possibly hailed from Etobicoke.

Pixie Feedback

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

I received some feedback to a recent Pixie post that I thought I would share with you.  “A book deal?!” you might wonder.  Not so much.  Here’s what I got:

“Excellent article! Endless amounts of invaluable info. We care for mini aussies in Okeechobee. These dogs are incredibly intelligent and playful. They always want to play all day then kick back with the family all night. I definitely enjoy their company.”

This missive was in response to the very first post I ever made and unless there was some “Paul-Is-Dead” kind of subtext I cannot imagine why a dog breeder would have located or appreciated it.  I have also received a number of offers to have various types of insurance sold to me so I am glad to report that the blog world is a rich and rewarding, if cryptic, one.

The heart leaps when one receives feedback, much like it leaps when flower delivery people show up at my office (invariably sporting foliage destined for a lucky other).  Please feel free to comment and send others to the site.  I am rather surprised no one has taken note of my recent and unnerving tendency to refer to myself in the third person (or at least by my Pixie alter ego).   I have been working on a couple of other personae that I may unleash on you shortly.  Methinks Miss Gruntled may have some LA adventures up her sleeve!

Some Good Advice

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

I am not really one for astrology.  I barely know my sign, haven’t a clue what time of day I was born or what my chart would say about such a thing and don’t understand immediately the inherent differences between the personality traits ascribed to each of the signs anyway.  That being said, my eye wandered over my horoscope today, and here’s what it said:

“Whatever you’re worrying about, stop worrying.  Whatever you’re regretting, stop regretting.  Whatever you’re afraid of … stop fearing it.  Don’t do this just because I’m advising it.  Do so because there really is no need.  Do it because you actively want to be motivated by inspiration rather than anxiety.  Do so because you have more to celebrate than you often realize … and because you are more loved, more appreciated and more respected than you know.”

Seems like fairly sage advice regardless of the source.  Maybe we should all follow it.

Corruption is Awesome – Part 2

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

I wrote a while back about the corruption that is rocking the tiny community of Bell, California.  More news today – the Chief Of Police has also been tapped in the scandal.  He signed on last year as chief and on the same day he was hired he was also declared disabled, a move that allowed him not only a lifetime disability benefit upon his retirement but also relieved him from having to pay tax on half his pension which was valued at about $400,000.00.  While enjoying his annual salary of $457,000.00 (remember Bell is a town of some 39,000 people) he managed to take regular rigorous spinning classes, enjoyed snow skiing and ran a 5K race in 32 minutes.  How did he obtain his disability, you may ask?  He twisted his back packing up his office to move to his new chief position.

The have balls in this part of the world.


Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

I just got back from a screening of “Catfish”, a new documentary about privacy and the internet.  The film was being shown at the Director’s Guide.  Not at all shockingly, the theatre was beautiful and the sound system was fantastic.  I don’t know if you have seen the trailers or the ad campaign for “Catfish”.  If you have, ignore them immediately.  The folks at Universal got it in to their collective heads that an advertising misdirect was in order.  The vibe is very “Blair Witch Project” and the film itself could not be further from that.  Definitely worth a look and yet again the screening was attended by the star/subject, which lead to a fascinating Q&A after the movie.

The stand out feature of tonight’s entertainment was actually the audience.  I got to the theatre early (my predilection for getting a perfect seat having been discussed in the past).  I had a book, but I noticed as the rest of the viewers filtered in that everyone was … short.  Really short.  I am 5’4″, and I noticed.  I have heard about this phenomenon before – the “Tall-y-wood vs Small-y-wood” but I had never witnessed it so effectively illustrated.  Does one have to be vertically challenged to be a director in this town?  A documentary fan?

Just for your edification:

Steven Spielberg – 5’7″

Martin Scorsese – 5’3″

Woody Allen – 5’5″

George Lucas – 5’6″ (although had he been taller, it would have explained a lot.  Like Jar Jar Binks, for instance)

The Mint

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

You know how there was a very controversial theory some years ago that you could do skull measurements to determine the likelihood that someone was going to be a criminal?  I believe there was a similar derivation used by the Belgians to differentiate the Hutus and Tutsis which pretty much directly resulted in a bloody genocide in Rwanda.

Ok, that was a really bad tangent.  Anyway, my point being I am wondering if you can do something similar for careers.  I went to see a show at the Mint Club here in Los Angeles featuring a guitar player called Brian Ray, who looks like this:

He’s the guy on the left, and I believe my point is you don’t grow up looking like that and wind up an accountant.  I think visages like that are a predetermining factor for a career in rock music .  That and an affectation for man jewelry.  Granted, in this instance the theory may be entirely enabled by the fact that the guy on the right is Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, but you see my point.

The show which was very good and very loud, performed by extremely talented session musicians (Brian Ray himself is Paul McCartney’s guitarist/bass player and he also co-wrote the Smokey Robinson hit “One Heartbeat”) and the venue was great as well. The sound board was being run by Robi Banerji, ex of Manta Sound, who is an absolutely lovely guy who has not aged a day in 20 years.  In fact, he looks like this, which may have sealed his fate as well:

That is not that face of an actuary.

Yet again it occurred to me that I was doing something I love – listening to good rock music in a club setting – that I pretty much never do at home.  I am going to have to make a pact with myself to step up the home antics.  It is good for my education, it doesn’t have to be expensive, it is fun.  And that rock visage?  It’s pretty.