Archive for March, 2011


Monday, March 28th, 2011

I had some friends over for a spell on Wednesday.  They had not met before, but they quickly discovered they had some things in common. One of them came over after a SLAA meeting at the YMCA near UCLA.  They fell in to a discussion of the relative merits of SLAA vs SAA.  Both had previously been members of OA, one was a current member of DA and MA as well.  It was nice to relax with some friends as the next day I had a full schedule of lectures on some very important issues arising in my professional environment.

The first lecture was hosted by AIMP and was chaired by the president of the NMPA who was championing the benefits of joining his organization.  The NMPA has been lobbying changes in the copyright laws as pertains to royalty acquisition and along with the the SGA, RIAA and DIMA have been working with the CRB to iron out rate changes.  The NMPA is associated with the HFA and distributes the spoils of the legal battles they have undertaken on behalf of its members.

The second lecture took place at the AFI on Western Ave and was hosted by the SCL.  Again, the primary concern was the acquisition of royalties and changes in law.  There were representatives from all the major PROs, like ASCAP,  BMI & CESAP.  Lots of war stories (and a couple of good digs at the AFM)!

Do you remember when you used to go to work at places that had names?  And did work that had a name?  When you could go to a “store” and buy “shoes”?  I am wondering if I am just to old school and should be thinking up a good acronym for myself.  Suggestions?

I Am The Walrus. Or his cousin. Or something.

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

The Los Angeles Marathon was this past Sunday.  It is called “Stadium To The Sea” as the race begins at Dodger Stadium and ends at the Pacific Ocean.  The route came though my neighbourhood along Sunset Boulevard then cut down to Santa Monica.  This closed both of these major thoroughfares as well as a portion of Orange Blvd which lies a few blocks east of my humble abode.  In effect it was impossible to leave my area by car for the majority of the day.  This, coupled with the fact that it was quite chilly and teeming with rain, meant that Sunday was a home bound lock down.  I spent the day sampling the various bits of snack items I had amassed from Trader Joes wrapped in a blanket watching endless episodes of “Dexter” on Netflix.  At one point in time I looked down at my prone form, cocooned in a brown fuzzy pelt on my couch with a sample of organic pseudo Kraft Dinner balanced on my chest and thought “Good Lord.  I look like an otter”.

The more I looked into it, the more I thought the analogy was a good one.  Here are some fun facts:

“An otter’s den is called a holt or couch. A male otter is a dog, a female a bitch, and a baby a whelpkit, or pup” Bitch?  Yeah, I have heard that one before.

“Otters have long, slim bodies and relatively short limbs”. The “slim” is variable but the rest fits the profile.

“Many otters live in cold waters and have very high metabolic rates to help keep them warm. Eurasian otters must eat 15% of their body-weight a day, and sea otters 20 to 25%, depending on the temperature.” I believe I have come close to that on a chip binge or two.

“For most otters, fish is the primary staple of their diet. This is often supplemented by frogs, crayfish and crabs. Some otters are expert at opening shellfish, and others will feed on available small mammals or birds.” Well, I am pretty much off the red meat now, though I do enjoy the occasional bit of chicken.  I have always found it funny that I spurn commonplace victuals such as eggs and cheese but if it scuttles across the ocean eating garbage I want two servings.  Another check in the otter box.

“The sea otter carries a small flat rock under its armpit with them to use to open hard shells on animals in which it feeds upon.” This is a trick I absolutely have to learn.  I have a friend who stores various essentials in her bra (Hi Rea!).  I am sure I could tuck a little rock in there.  Would come in handy for innumerable things now that I think about it.

“Otters are playful animals and appear to engage in various behaviors for sheer enjoyment.” That would explain my love of speed and habit of hurling myself off of/out of things.  Possibly would explain my thing for musicians, but that could just be a genetic defect.

“Different species vary in their social structure, with some being largely solitary, while others live in groups.” The former, definitely.

So there we have it.  I am channeling the otter.  Tomorrow I will be on a quest for a small flat rock.

Self Awareness

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

There are times when I feel like my sense of self is rather distorted.  Sometimes when I buy clothes I seem to think I am a willowy 5’10” 26 year old.  Clearly, I am none of those things.  There are times when I launch into something physically active I think I am a spry teenager. This illusion does not last for long.  Then there are the times when I see performers like Meshell Ndeggeocello, and I fancy myself a brilliant afro american entertainer (which also happened when I saw Bettye Levette).  Really, nothing could be further from the truth.

Meshell Ndeggeocello was playing Largo two weeks in a row.  The first week she did a set of her own songs which I had to miss.  The second week she played a show of Prince cover tunes.  For those of you who do not know her Meshell is an artist who defies any real pigeonholing.  She is a songwriter and a poet and and an artist, as well as a smoking bass player.

Her Prince covers were fantastic.  Some were straight rock interpretations, others were almost spoken word.  Her second to last number was a walking jazz version of “I Would Die 4 U”.  Her encore was “Purple Rain” which started as a very slow a cappella number that built to a full band rock out.  The evening was riveting and fantastic, with the added bonus that Dave Piltch, an incredible bass player from Toronto, wandered out to play stand-up on a couple of numbers.

Its a good thing Largo is a soft seat theatre otherwise there may have been dancing.  I don’t want to think of what delusions I may have come up with about myself were dancing brought into the mix.


Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Last night Jessica and I went to the Landmark Theatre to take in a film and I was exposed yet again to a superior screening experience.  The theatre we were ushered in to was small an intimate and featured couches and chairs with side tables to put your confectionary items rather than the beverage disk affixed to the front of an arm rest that are so common in the theatres I have known in the north.








Again, the picture and sound quality were impeccable – a fact I was not too concerned about as the staff had sold us tickets to the wrong movie, but we stayed anyway.  We had intended to see “Certified Copy”, an intellectual drama starring Juliet Binoche but instead saw “Cedar Rapids”, a puerile comedy featuring John C. Riley.  The less said about the latter the better, but the popcorn was good and the viewing experience was very comfortable even if the viewing material was not.

I tripped home early, blessedly unencumbered with lingering thoughts on the movie I had just seen, and fell in to bed after reading my California Driver’s Handbook.  A little light reading in preparation for  my in car drivers test, the first one I have taken in over 25 years.

I was nervous about the test I must admit.  I am nervous about any test.  The DMV offices do nothing to help assuage and feelings of helplessness or futility.  They are a soul sucking place.  (I don’t know if any of you are familiar with the show “Reaper”.  It was only on for a couple of seasons and remained largely unwatched but one of the basic premises was that the local DMV acted as a portal to Hell.  Not really that far off here.)  Fortunately the test was outdoors and my time spent in the actual edifice was minimal.  I was there at 8:45 in the morning to sign in for my 9:00 am test, which commenced promptly at 10:15.  At least the examiner was pleasant and I passed with flying colours.

Why a California driver’s license?  I don’t need one to drive legally – I can use my Canadian license for up to 6 months.  I guess I just want to create a feeling of commitment.  That, and the fact that is gives me the opportunity to unleash yet another hideous photo of me on the world.







No make up, no smiling, no humour, no nose.




At least you will have a myriad of pictures to choose from when I eventually go on the lam.

California Charity

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Los Angeles has been reeling a bit in the wake of the earthquake in Japan, and for good reason.  There’s a bunch of fault lines in California and a damn large one runs right through downtown.

There has been a fair amount of coverage in the papers on the quake, unusual for a town whose business section cover is usually reporting the latest box office stats of “Mars Needs Moms”.  I have learned rather a lot about tsunamis.  For instance, though the wave itself may not be high – say 3 feet in Santa Monica – the current is significantly changed and the undertow can rip you out to sea in moments.  Also, the front line of the wave isn’t the dangerous part.  It is the fact that the water picks up debris (like, say, an 18 wheeler) thereby arming itself on its destructive jaunt through the countryside.  I am mesmerized by the footage.

I went to a totally unrelated charity event on Saturday (though I did hop on line and made a donation to the earthquake relief through the Red Cross).  This was called “Yoga Stops Traffic” and was a benefit for the Odanadi Seva Trust, which is an organization in India that is involved in rescuing people from lives of indentured servitude and prostitution through education and rehabilitation (and sometimes kidnapping or the purchasing of their freedom).  There were 140 yoga classes held worldwide in 36 different countries.  The class was led by a wonderful teacher named Daniel Overberger.

Daniel is a southern fellow and he leads his classes like a gentle baptist preacher with a bit of a potty mouth.  I like his classes very much, not unaided by the fact that they take place outdoors in Runyon Canyon.  There is something fantastic about stretching out under a wide blue sky in the middle of a vast park.

Daniel standing, John Buchan all in black to his right, Jessica Porter in long sleeve blue shirt, me in burgundy T-Shirt doing something un-yoga like with my foot.  And possibly swearing.

Charity yoga in a canyon, you say?  That sounds like some ridiculous California stereotype.  Did I strap on my birkenstocks, carefully avoiding my braided leg hair, throw on a poncho and a spritz of patchouli from a non aerosol bottle and make my way there gentle humming Grateful Dead tunes?  No, I did not.  Nor did I don a full set of Lululemon groove activewear,  toss my freshly bleached extensions into a scrunchie and jog up to the park after carefully purging my half grapefruit and iceberg lettuce breakfast.  I love it here, but I have not become it here.  My Canadian cyni-hide is still as thick as ever.


Laurel Canyon

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

The other day I was waiting for a conference call to start.  I waited.  Then I waited some more.  Then I finally called my client only to discover that the three people I was to be conversing with (the call that THEY had requested, scheduled and confirmed fully twice) had all simultaneously forgotten about it.  Alas.  I was set to my own devices and the call schedule was reset.

A few days earlier I had a meeting with a guitarist/composer in Studio City so I decided to go back and check it out.  Studio City is in the Valley, an area when to referred to by LA residents is usually accompanied by a certain look of displeasure like one had recently detected an unpleasant smell.  Geographically it is just on the other side of the mountains from West Hollywood and Beverly Hills so if you climbed over the hill and fell off like the Cliffhanger guy from the Price is Right you would drop right on to it.

It looked like it had some intriguing shops, cafes and what appeared to be a good book store.  (Appearances are deceiving.  It turned out to be a Borders)

The real draw of Studio City (at least on a + 70 degree day when one is in possession of a convertible) is that it is accessed from Hollywood by way of Laurel Canyon Blvd.

Laurel Canyon Blvd is one of the routes that connect the LA Basin to the Valley.  It is a twisty windy road that feels like it is deep in the country even though it connects two halves of a vast metropolis.  The canyon was settled in 1910 but became a mecca for the hippie musician set from the 1960s.  Frank Zappa lived here, as did Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison and various members of Buffalo Springfield and the Byrds.  There is a vague lingering scent of patchouli to this day.  It is most excellent fun to traverse in a tiny car with the top down and I did so with enthusiasm.  Once on the other side I drank in the small town feel of Studio City.  I also wolfed down a delicious Boston Cream cupcake from a local bakery, but we need not dwell on such trivial matters. I elected to take Coldwater Canyon Blvd home, an equally serpentine bit of road that winds past Franklin Canyon and deposits the driver in Beverly Hills.

All in all it was a nice way to recuperate from a missed meeting.  I am trying to adhere to a policy of making lemonade when handed lemons.  So far the only real result is that I gently burp bumper sticker platitudes like the one I just emitted, but it is a policy worth working on.

MIA – Part #2

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Ah, where was I?  I believe I had just swapped Will for Jennifer when I last left off.

The lovely Miss Jennifer Ward arrived for a visit.  Jen has been to the City Of Angels several times and as such had a rather comprehensive plan for our entertainment.  I dragged her to the downtown version of Senor Fish just prior to a viewing of the play “33 Variations” starring Jane Fonda.  The play was quite good.  Jane Fonda, not so much.  Jane is rather obviously an actress better suited for the silver screen rather than born to tread the boards.  As such she spent much of the first act frankly yelling at the audience as no one saw fit during her illustrious career to teach her to project from the diaphragm.  She did receive a standing ovation, mostly I suspect for being Jane Fonda. This town is slavishly devoted to its celebrities after all.

Saturday we hopped in my little convertible under looming grey skies and explored the coast.  Up to Malibu, down to the Getty Villa whose collection is focussed on ancient art.

Yet again, the grounds themselves seemed rather superior to the contents of the buildings.

We did managed to create a little commemorative art on our own:

Sunday we tackled the coast in the other direction and headed south to San Diego.  We paused for a delicious seafood lunch in La Jolla, took in the seal colony there, and came to the conclusions that seals keep a dubious state of personal hygiene.

We moved on to Mission Beach and had dinner in the gas lamp district of San Diego.  Someone really should tell the municipal leaders that gas lamps are, by definition, powered by gas. This district really is the bar and restaurant “scene” in San Diego.  After having observed innumerable lasses in teetering heels and skirts the breadth of an average belt we decided the scene was not ours and we beat a retreat after a tasty Indian meal.

The following day we zipped down to the Coronado, a large island off the shore of the city where the historic Hotel Del Coronado is located.

It was here that I ran into Chris Gaulthier, a guitar player who worked at the same studio as Will for years.  He is living in Los Angeles. I have not seen him in Toronto in ages, nor have I run into him in LA, but here we both were casually strolling the boardwalk in a city we do not live in thousands of miles from the place from whence we both came.  This world, she is small.

San Diego was basically a mad dash. We did get to Balboa Park, but we didn’t see the aquarium, or go to any of the museums, or go to their world famous zoo, or walk the streets of Old Town. It is a pretty city, and one that I look forward to investigating further.

Jen and I drove back to LA along the central highway and defying all logic and warnings to the contrary made it back to town in two and a half hours in time to see a benefit featuring (amongst others) Sarah Silverman and Patton Oswalt, which was really entertaining.

Alas, Jennifer had to fly home on Tuesday but we did manage a drive along Mulholland in my sporty little car.

I extracted a promise for a return visit in the near future, and braced myself for the arrival of Canadian contingent #3. More on that in the morrow!