Archive for August, 2011

Dirty Spiderman

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

I am sure I have mentioned in these pages the phenomenon that is Hollywood Boulevard.  I refer specifically to the stretch between La Brea and Vine where one finds Mme Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, the stars on the Walk of Fame, The Kodak Theatre and dozens upon dozens of tour buses offering the chance to see the privacy fences and garage doors of places that may or may not have been owned at some time by a celebrity you may or may not have heard of.  This area has been in my orbit from the very start of my adventures here.  I first sublet a place a few blocks east of the main drag and my little pixie palace was about 10 minutes south.  That said, I have always avoided the area like the plague.

One of the main attractions is Grauman’s Chinese Theatre which is where the famous hand and footprints can be found.

You can also find about one million tourists all wandering about like they are emerging from particularly heavy dental anesthesia –  unsteady on their feet, curiously etherized yet edgy at the same time.  They are rivaled in number by the locals who are attempting to liberate some of the tourist dollars from the shutter mad masses.  There are buskers and beggars and be-costumed actors, the latter of whom are generally turned out in various degrees of success as characters from the current blockbusters on order at the cinema.  Loathe though I am to haunt the area it is also where one finds DSW (that would be Designer Shoe Warehouse to the uninitiated or “Mecca” as I am prone to calling it) so a trip there is occasionally necessary. I espied a Johnny Depp pirate, a Transformer and someone who I think may have been Thor if Thor had access to a fake fur supplier and a surplus of baby oil.  It is a well documented phenomenon that at any given time in this area you will see at least two Spidermen (often more) and one of them could easily be distinguished as “Dirty Spiderman”.  Not that any of the specimens would be described as scrubbed like a newborn babe, but usually there is one particularly grubby one.  For the first time today I actually tossed one a couple of bucks for the pleasure of taking his picture.  He was an especially lithe fellow, and he was wearing a costume obviously crafted from his own hand that looked like this:

He was flipping around like an freshly landed and unusually coordinated  trout,  loaded with unbridled enthusiasm.

Take a look at that sucker.  Then add this little dimension.  It was 100 degrees today.

One.  Hundred.  Degrees.

And this little guy was spinning around all day in a black petroleum byproduct with a mask on his face.

I think I need to be a little more thankful about the life I lead.

Anyway, tonight is my last on the West Coast. Breakfast tomorrow with my pal Ethan in West Hollywood then off to the airport I go.  I look forward to discovering if and how the airline will manage to blame the inevitable delay in a hurricane occurring several hundred miles from my final destination, but I have faith that they will.

From New York to LA

Friday, August 26th, 2011

I made the coastal transition last night.  The flight was remarkable only in its perfect representation of travel in LA as a whole – an uneventful journey terminating in an extra hour trying to find somewhere to park.

I checked in late to the Sheraton Universal, immediately rejected the first room offered at the headboard seemed to rest but inches from the 101 freeway and fell into a blissful slumber once ensconced in a quieter room.  The Sheraton itself is plain hotel fare but I chose it for the location in the Cahuenga Pass which allows for easy access to both the Valley and the Basin that comprise LA.  The down side is that it is on a hill in the middle of a theme park and rather remote.  There is no walking anywhere, parking and eating are limited to the immediate area and as such both commodities come at usurious cost.

I had a full itinerary today and my path meandered through many of my favorite places.  I started  the day in Pasadena and ended it in Santa Monica with time off for good behavior in Beverly Hills.  All the meetings were excellent.  I met some great people, forged some strong connections and became acquainted with the bearer of the best 1970s porn ‘stache I have seen in ages, worn completely without irony.  I finished off the day reading in the sunshine on the escarpment overlooking Santa Monica with a pleasant breeze cooling of the 90 degree day.  I can never get enough of this place.

I waited out the traffic and wandered into Venice for a delightful dinner in a little placed called Sauce.  Slightly off the beaten path, it has a nice healthy local menu.  I had a salad of seared tuna on organic spinach with shaved fennel & celeriac topped by toasted macadamia nuts and my second serving of the day of applewood smoked bacon.  Applewood smoked bacon may in fact be nature’s perfect food.  The free home made chocolate chip cookie at the end of the meal did not hurt the experience at all.

I decided to finish the evening with another one of my favorite pastimes and took Mulholland Drive home instead of the freeway.  It is a beautiful road along the crest of the mountains that separate the Valley from the Basin.  The trip was slightly marred by the fact that the last time I made such a drive it was in my sporty, road hugging convertible.  This time I was left to manipulate the flaccid teats of the Ford Motor Company’s latest porcine Rental Wonder.  Still, the view is spectacular and I doubt I will be able to get back on this visit.

Another full day tomorrow, then back to the salt mines.

Fishing or Flying

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

The only two reasons why anyone should be up at an hour that begins with “4” are fishing or flying and I really only ever do one of them.  I myself was up at such an ungodly hour the other day to deliver myself to New York City.  The journey itself was uneventful, though the airport was curiously bustling at such an early hour and I found myself strolling the Manhattan streets for the start of the business day.  Within three minutes of ditching my suitcase I was asked for directions and two minutes later I found a cool second hand book store.  Ah, New York.

I love this city.  I love the energy. I love the architecture.  I love the unapologetic jay walking.  I love the that you can move from the peak of urban bustle then drop down a cross street to be greeted by leafy canopies and stately brownstones.  I love that a whole unique world operates on eye level and when you look up another dimension reveals itself.  This city is constantly exposing its layers and I am fascinated by it all.

My hotel turned out to be an excellent choice.   From a completely innocuous foyer I made my way to a large apartment suite complete with full kitchen.  Bigger than anything I could afford to live in in New York and conveniently located at 49th between Lexington and 3rd with free breakfast and internet thrown in.  AND fully vetted by the Bedbug Registry so safe unbitten sleeping for me!


I had a very good meeting over lunch and rolled my full self up to Central Park.  It amazes me that such a beautiful expanse of green can exist amid the mayhem of the city.

Dinner was an early affair at Nobu 57 with my friend Jonathan Lattif. I have a longstanding challenge with Jonathan that one day I will feed him to the point off illness.  We came close.

Today I walked all over the island, shopped for (but failed to purchase) shoes at several fantastic locations, tucked two excellent meetings in and managed to completely fail to notice an earthquake.  An eventful day.

Tomorrow I have one more meeting in the afternoon then I shove off for LA.  The morning is clear.  Do I subway down to Chelsea and ghoul around Soho and the Village which are my favorite neighbourhoods or do I commit to culture and zip over to MOMA?  These are the decisions I love to make.

LA will be another raucous raceabout.  I had hoped that one contact would be able to coordinate a bunch of potential suppliers into one room but alas she cannot, so I will be meeting with them individually.  So far I have meetings in Pasadena, West Hollywood, Sherman Oaks and Studio City.  There will be much driving, but I am hoping to tuck a couple more in as well.  I am going to try for three a day (I managed that once on  my last stay) on both days.  A two-fer-three-fer, as it were.

Wish me luck.  It will be difficult to bid adieu to this fantastic place.


Shark Week

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Shark Week is ending on Discovery and I am sad to see it go.  I am not a big TV watcher but I saw the ads that Shark Week was on and I called by cable provider and signed up.  I have a weakness for sharks, or more specifically documentaries about the ancient beasties.  I am not entirely sure why – perhaps because of their power and the fact that so little is understood about them.  Nature at its primordial best.  Now I have a bit of a rep for being a pint low in fear.  I am the first person to tie a string around my ankle and throw myself off or on anything really really fast or really really tall but I think I draw the line at lowering myself in a cage to paddle around with fish that are 20 feet long, weigh more than a minivan and have around 300 serrated teeth arranged in nasty rows.  I like to tell myself that I wouldn’t swim with sharks because I might find the water a bit chilly, but the truth lies elsewhere.

I also have a fascination with Airline Disaster Week which curiously always manages to pop up just before I am scheduled to take a long flight.  It is funny how TV can be the Great Moderator.  My sister and I, who are great friends now but shared a rather combative childhood, always managed to call a truce when there was an Elvis movie to be had or an episode of the original Star Trek.  (The Vulcan battle theme is so ingrained in my psyche it is a good thing I never married – I may have demanded to walk down the aisle to it:

Although I mourn the ending of Shark Week  and its hours of fascinating and gruesome entertainment I am pleased that to announce the end of another term spent with a dead eyed, soulless predator.  After almost three years I have finally parted ways with my on-again-off-again LA affair.  I learned a great deal from it (like not to date anyone with an actual diagnosable personality disorder) I don’t regret it and LA is not spoiled for me.  I still have every intention of working down there, confident that our paths shall never cross.

In the past week I have watched some fascinating sharks, evicted another one from my life, AND I believe I have come up with my next new business plan that I am very excited about and will be announcing in detail in a month or so.  It has been a good time.  I have always viewed September with a bit of trepidation – it symbolizes a new start to me in ways the first of January never could.  This time around I am filled with energy and enthusiasm for the start of my new season.  I am am not afraid to go back in the water.