Archive for the ‘June 2010’ Category

I Am An Idiot – June 16, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Well, with that intro I know a number of you probably just said “Yep” and moved on to the next email in you mailbox, but let me explain.

Many of the store fronts in LA have metal shutters that are rolled down after hours, presumably for security purposes.  In my particular stretch of Hollywood Blvd many of these shutters have been painted with depictions of stars past.  Some are instantly recognizable:

Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy

Bing, Alfred

Some not so much.

Abbott & Costello, I am assuming Greta Garbo (Marlene Dietrich, I have since been advised)

Some, like in Dino’s case, they label to avoid confusion.

Here’s the idiot part:  I walked past this one half a dozen times and thought “Why the hell is Ashton Kutcher up here?”

Then I realized it was probably Carol Burnett.

Oh dear.

Perfect LA Day – June 15, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Today was a perfect day in Los Angeles.  About 80 degrees, not at all humid, crystal blue skies, no smog, everything in crisp relief, like the world is in high def.

I started the morning by leaping out of bed and immediately forgetting about an 8:00 am conference call with Montreal.  Ooops. All was not lost, I hopped on a little late (no blaming traffic on this one).  I spent the rest of the morning smooth talking potential clients on the phone.  If I take one thing out of this experience, it is a future as a phone sex operator.  Once I had completed all the oral stroking I could handle I took myself off to a nice clean lunch at a cafe on Melrose.  I ordered the macrobiotic special – miso salmon, steamed cauliflower, baby bok choy and brocollini with a light garlic sauce and brown rice.   Yummy power food, I swear this is the stuff that the Super Friends ate at the Hall of Justice cafeteria when they were on break.  Anyway, the place was packed so I ordered my food to go with the thought I would consume it at a nearby park.  While I was waiting a busboy brushed past and knocked my tea over, which I had left on the counter in my travel mug.  The tea hit the floor and the mug broke.  The poor busboy (a Mexican lad in his early 20s) was horror struck.  I have never seen anyone so upset over a mug (god knows I wasn’t).  He was almost inconsolable.  He immediately replaced my tea, then returned to ask if he could pay for the mug.  I kept insisting it was fine, and he came back again and pressed one of the restaurant’s portable mugs in my hand and insisted I take it.  The he came back with some cookies in a bag.  He kept insisting on making it up to me – I almost demanded he marry me for my green card status, but I thought that might be taking advantage of the situation.

I wandered off to the part, drank my tea and ate my delicious lunch and popped one of the chocolate chip cookies into my mouth.  It tasted just like … seaweed.  Not the nice, crisp seaweed like the nori stuff they wrap sushi in, but the blobby, washed up on the beach, seagull feces infused, left to rot in the sun, maybe with a human body part in it seaweed.  Full food betrayal in a single bite.  Not that I blame my mexican now-potentially-ex-husband busboy pal.  I am sure he didn’t know.

Gathered my thought and my tastebuds and headed off to my meeting (oddly enough in my own neighbourhood) and upon completion wandered off down Sunset Blvd by way of the local Designer Shoe Warehouse.  While in the store a murmur started about an evacuation of the building.  I emerged to find the police cordoning off the area around Graumann’s Chinese Theatre and was told that they police had received a “credible federal threat”.  I thought that this may be the first credible event that has ever happened around Graumann’s but kept it to myself.  I am curious what it may have been (didn’t hear any booms) and reacted the only way a sensible person should – I went for a massage.

Let me just mentioned I pulled a hamstring at boot camp the other day and have been wandering around like the Tin Man for a while, so I have been looking for a place to have a massage.   I got the name of a place that Edna went to with one of her clients – a Thai massage place called TMH.  TMH must be an acronym for whatever the Thai phrase for “Ninja Assassin Training Camp” is.  It was dark and labyrinthine, with small curtain separated rooms.  I was half expecting someone to ask if I wanted a “happy ending”.  The massage started with a nimble woman clad in a black leotard (with feet) entering my darkened room. She hopped up on the table and kneeled with her shin bones aligned down my hamstrings and her knees in my butt.  It was vigorous to say the least with little attention paid to modesty. She was standing on the table (and me) more often than not.  She had my sheet flapping like a sail at high seas and was spinning herself around on my body like a break dancer.  She wasn’t particularly tiny – think “Adam Cartright” in the cast of Bonanza (and I did see the Hoss and Little Joe versions as well when I came in).  It was quite excellent, although decidedly a different experience than massages I have had in the past.  I suspect by tomorrow I shall crave another, much like I do Thai food.

Home now by way of the three berry cake store.

Life is sweet.

Venice Again – June 14, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

I love food.  I love food and I will travel for it.  There’s a place called the Rose Cafe in Venice that serves the most incredible seared tuna sandwich.  If God made sandwiches (and I believe we can all agree, he does) he would have made this one.  Seared Ahi tuna, soft on-site baked bun, roasted red peppers, gentle garlic mayo.  Comes with arugula salad or fries, both of which are outstanding AND they have a killer desserts.  I have gone back far too many times for a girl in a big city for a limited time.  But I love ’em and I love Venice, so I went back after the parade on Sunday.

I took some time to meander up Abbott Kinney Blvd, which I have mentioned before.  It is a lovely street with dozens of coffee shops and restaurants rubbing shoulders with clothing stores and art galleries and antique markets.  The entire neighbourhood is rife with tiny perfect cottages and the ones along the boulevard have been converted into stores as well.  Venice is funky and a little more down at heel than its shiny Santa Monica sister to the north.  I like it.  Although evidently it doesn’t like me.

I can totally see Kim on this:

There is evidence of a great many cakes, of which I approve:

There are gyms, to work off the aforementioned cakes:

And plenty of places to eat, shop and relax to work off the workout.

I found this little place a few blocks away on a side street.  I think I like everything about it, including the muddy dogs.

Maybe not the minivan.

More later.  Sit back, relax and enjoy the flight.

One More Thing To Love – June 13, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

This is my dinner.  Organic brown rice, organic local broccoli and that fish there is a piece of yellowfin tuna I snagged at the local Gelson’s.  The guy showed me a piece and I asked him to cut it in half.  When I got home I realized much to my chagrin that he had cut the piece in half, but sold be the whole piece anyway.  Then it occurred to me that the whole piece was $3.84.  And there’s half left for tomorrow.  So this whole dinner cost about $4.00.  Double it if you include the slice of Boston Cream Pie that snuck home with me somehow.

Ahi tuna is the red, expensive stuff that you see everywhere but yellowfin is local and delicious.  I joked that it was my goal to give myself mercury poisoning before I left.  Maybe that goal is within my grasp!

Gay Pride Parade – June 13, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

It is Gay Pride week in Los Angeles, and the Pride parade took place today in West Hollywood.  Although I have been avoiding the Toronto counterpart for decades now I thought it would be interesting to see what this town had to offer.

There were a lot of proud people

There were a lot of gay people

There were a lot of very buff people

There were a lot of people who indulged in an injudicious use of cologne

There were a lot of people who seemed to think colourful Y-front underpants (and nothing else) were perfectly acceptable garb for the day

There were a lot of people in leather and latex.  Let’s hope there was a lot of talcum powder as well.

There were a lot of people in general.  They anticipated a crowd of half a million – that is the equivalent of every man, woman and child in Newfoundland and Labrador in one place at one time.  (Really, if that ever happened I doubt they would have chosen this particular venue, but I digress)  Being LA, it was remarkably spread out and the route was down Santa Monica Blvd which is eight lanes wide, so it never felt crowded and lacked the sense of frenzy that Toronto has.  The floats were spread out by about a block apiece, so it was leisurely to say the least.  Sharon and Kelly Osbourne were the grand marshals. I didn’t stick around for them to float by.

There were some fabulous costumes:

A good many floats

Some fabulous parting gifts:

(Gotta love the disclaimer).

I was parked for the most part next to a guy with his excellent dogs:

They were a MAGNET for people – male, female, gay, straight.  Something to ponder.

I realized a couple of things.

1)  There were an enormous amount of men striding around in heels that there was no WAY I could maneuver in

2) Not ONE person threw me a condom, and there were plenty on the offer.  Anyway, I got a ruler out of the deal, so no complaints.

It was a big day.  I was in Venice again, so more on that later.

Enjoy your meals.

The Quest Continues – June 11, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

So after a rather atypically frustrating day I decided to continue my quest for “All Things Jane” in Los Angeles.

In the past I had sped by a rather interesting strip of stores on Franklin Blvd several times and realized today it was probably closer to my place than I had previously thought.  I looked it up on a map and set out on foot.  It was, in fact, within an easy walk (Jane approval:  check).  I noticed that just beyond the stretch of charming stores there was a large Gelsons (a Loblaws-like grocery store).  I went in to discover it was well equipped with a good bakery (check), large organic selection (check), clean public washrooms (check), a large selection of wine (check, for someone other than me).  I considered buying some fresh fish for dinner but decided I was too lazy to cook (check) and was going to eat leftover Indian instead (check again).  I did manage to secure a chocolate mousse on my way out (check).

On the way back through I paid closer attention to the strip that had caught my eye and discovered that not only were there several charming restaurants (checky check)

there was also the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, an improve comedy venue that launched the careers of the likes of Amy Poehler.  (Chicky Check)

There was a fantastic second hand bookstore with actual books that I would actually like to read (checkeroony and I will be going back THERE in short order)

There was also an excellent coffee shop (check) that had a wide selection of tea (check again) and rather unexpectedly a bizarre little grotto in the back where I will go to smoke opium if I lose 20 years off my age, become cool, opium becomes legal and cheap and …   Ok maybe I will  just go back for a jasmine tea.  (By the way, the flash does NOT to the grotto justice – in reality it lurks in semi-darkness.   (Checkity checkerton).

Oh, and the name of this fine establishment?

Check MATE!

And another short tale before I go.  As I was walking into Gelson’s I saw a guy I was certain was Ice T.

Not Ice Cube (that would be this guy)

or one of the various and sundry other “Ice”es in popular culture.  (Sidebar to the sidebar:  Why hasn’t a rapper from one of the Northern climes – like Detroit, say, never dubbed themselves “Black Ice”? I wonder.  Am I having a music mogul moment right now?)

Ice T is this guy.

This is not the first time I thought I spotted Ice T.  In fact, the math is probably more like:

Number of times I thought someone was Ice T:  about 15

Number of times it WAS Ice T:  Probably zero

While I was reflecting on the large number of Ice T-alikes in this town, I actually physically ran into Richard Belzer

Richard Belzer appeared in the early seasons of Law & Order:  SVU with …. Ice T.   (Did you think I was going to say Kevin Bacon?)


Have a spectacular weekend all.  I expect your reports on my desk first thing Monday morning.

Cliftons, Cats, California – June 12, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Greetings to all.  I am feeling slightly under the weather.  The left over Indian that I had eaten with such enthusiasm yesterday clearly had other intentions rather than to sit idly by and be digested.  It was only a day old, but I did leave it unrefridgerated for a few hours while Denis Leary was failing to entertain me.  Oh yes, I bought a ticket to see Denis Leary, didn’t really want to go once the event rolled around (which happens to me all the time), talked myself into it and was bored solid until I left about an hour into it.  LA audiences are funny.  They laugh too long and too hard at jokes they clearly do not understand.  I have recently had it explained to me that when in doubt British and Canadian comedians default to self deprecation, while American comedians default to anger.  Now, I can throw a fit as well as the next guy and my tirades are legendary, but I guess the whole Janeelizabethheathism of British Canadian heritage apparently trumps all.

Not wanting to dwell on my gurgling belly, I shall cast my mind back to a meal I had at Clifton’s, a legendary cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles.  Clifton’s has been around since 1931 (I suspect half the staff have as well) and opened during the Great Depression.  In the early years the founder had a policy of never turning anyone away hungry and thus served thousands of charitable free meals.  So there’s good karma here.  And jello.

And about the craziest decor ever.  There’s a meditation room.

And a moose.  (Up at the top, I swear)

And a kind of mish mash of pioneer town

and South Pacific, complete with waterfall and rope bridge. (there’s a true abundance of grottos in my life these days)

And when they say cafeteria, boy, they are not messing around.

Three aisles of heat-lamped pageantry.

I myself had a delightful repast consisting of real hand carved turkey, stuffing, half a fresh California avocado with vinaigrette, pink lemonade, green tea and a piece of strawberry shortcake, all for $12.00.  The plastic tray made it extra special.

So, there’s the Clifton’s part of the tale.

The cat part is precipitated by the fact that there is a cat wandering around under my window yowling, in heat, clearly wanting to have sex.  I don’t know if throwing the window open and yelling “I hear you, sister” helped, but I know I feel better.

There are a few strays around here, and they are very small and won’t come near me.

I need to bring my fat-ass Liam down to show them how it is done.

And California:

I met a woman today who hails originally from New York City.  She is probably in her seventies, and came here 37 years ago with her husband to run a chain of department stores.  We were talking about the East Coast vs West Coast mentality and she told me that when she came here she couldn’t believe how stupid everyone was.  I asked her if she thought things were improving and she responded “No.  They are still all stupid.  I’m just used to it now.”


A Cool Tag, A Cool Tale – June 10, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

The cool tag:

The cool tale:

The other day I met a real character.  Not the quasi run ins I have had with the pseudo famous, but a real character.

You all know me well enough to know I am not the fawning type, and I will not like  or admire someone just because they are pretty or lucky.  Realistically I am more likely to resent them for possessing exactly those qualities. I admire people for their talent and insight.  Hell, the cleaning lady who thought to febreeze my couch will be getting a bronze plaque on my life’s walk of fame before some idiot in an action flick does. A great many of the celebrities down here seem to have achieved notoriety simply because they are pretty, or lucky, or both.

The other day I met a fantastic guy.  He came up to my table at Mel’s, a traditional diner from the ’50s on Sunset Blvd.  He was a really cool old black cat.  I know it seems ridiculous for a little Canadian white chick to be using such a phrase, but there is no other way to describe him.  Older, tall, rail thin with long elegant musician hands, geri curled hair, tasteful yet weighty watch and ring, clad all in black but for an almost tuxedo length patterned jacket.  He looked a bit like Little Richard, only not as flamboyant.

He introduced himself as Jack Hammer, hit writer, and informed me he had composed amongst other classics the Jerry Lee Lewis opus “Great Balls of Fire”.  I must admit I though he may have been blowing smoke.  Jack Hammer?  Really?  Great Balls Of Fire?  Really?

He told me he liked Mel’s because they have those individual juke boxes and several of his tracks could still be found in them.  He also told me he had recently been shopping a track to “Dolly” (Parton, I can only presume) but she had turned him down because the lyrics were too dirty.  (He imitated her telling him this and sang some of the song and yes, the lyrics were decidedly on the edgy side of double entendre).  He found this enormously funny.

As he was leaving he told me he eats nothing but chocolate milkshakes and burgers at Mel’s in an effort to gain some weight.  “I suppose I should just lay off the dope” he laughed, and tucked himself into a sweet cherry red vintage Mercedes convertible.  “Great Wheels of Fire” he called it.

Charming guy.  And damn it all if I didn’t go home and look him up and yes, Jack Hammer DID write “Great Balls of Fire” and a bunch of other songs.  Born in New Orleans in 1940.  Maybe it isn’t all about appearances, all the time.

Beautiful Downtown Burbank – June 9, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Johnny Carson used to say that right?  Or was it Bob Barker?  One of those silver haired TV icons anyway.

I was in downtown Burbank today at a meeting (two today, both went fabulously) and gosh darn it if Burbank isn’t rather pretty.  I felt curiously at home there and I could not figure out why until I realized that the trees are predominantly deciduous and evergreen as opposed to the regulation palm that you see everywhere.  (Although I have learned that palm trees are not indigenous to this area.  This is a desert after all.)

There ARE some palms, of course

But the place is clean and friendly and shady.  The mountains in the background aren’t bad to look at either.

There were some cool stores

And god help me not one but TWO second hand book stores (not very good ones, granted, but it was at least an indication that people read on this side of the hills)

I spent some time between appointments touring the local mall which is, unsurprisingly, like ever other mall in North America (except the evil malls, like Gerrard Square and Dufferin – those are just gateways to Hell).  This one had a martial arts academy, which on closer inspection had an enormous frontage, a long wall at the back that was covered in mirrors but was in reality only about 14 feet wide.  Its all about appearance here.

Is this not a kind of very potent weed?

After the second meeting I got a little lost-on-purpose tooling around Mulholland Drive with the top off the car.  Quite delightful.  Mulhollard is a twisty piece of beauty that runs across the tops of the mountains that separate Los Angeles proper from the Valley.  I couldn’t take many pictures as I was driving and I have decided NOT to do a James Dean re-enactment, but I did stop at one viewing area to take a look.  This is the Valley side with Studio City at the base.  MCA Universal is the black tower, Disney is off to the right somewhere.

A little hazy, but you can make out the mountains.  And that obviously crappy abode with the terrible views lower in the frame.

Feeling good.  The Nashville legs looms large and foreboding in the near future.  I am going to stuff myself with a Whole Foods crab cake the run off to see some more documentaries for free at a theatre on Vine that I found my first week here.  Can’t remember what I am seeing, some tragic war thing I am sure.

Cheers to you all!


Downtown – June 8, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

I was in downtown LA yesterday.  There is very little reason to go to downtown LA (unless you had a little banking to do, as I did).  The old LA downtown is a bit of an oddity.  In the 1920s it was created as the cultural hub.  The main street is called “Broadway” and all the old theatres were built there and it flourished, right up until they discovered that Broadway runs DIRECTLY along a fault line, after which the core fell into disrepair.  It is now the home of the garment district (read sweatshops), the toy district (read sweatshops to make those cheap ugly stuffed creatures they sell at the Ex) and the jewelry district (read sweatshops for low carat gold necklaces).  The old theatres are still there, only now they have been chopped up to make room for video arcades and mobile phone stores and bad wedding dress shops (apparently a girl’s 15th birthday is a major deal in the Latino community so there are dozens of shops selling frothy communion type dresses to mark the event.)  If you look hard enough you can still see the facades, and there is a move to restore the core.

The Mayan Theatre has reopened as a nightclub.

There is some interesting artwork cropping up

But the place is pretty dirty.  I can only assume this is gum.

Skid Row is but a few blocks away and it is disturbing.  The homeless scatter throughout the day but at night there are thousands upon thousands of the disenfranchised in a vast tent city (for those lucky enough to have tents).  It looks like what an American version of a Delhi slum might look like.  No pictures of that.

Anyway, if you look beyond the crazy Vegas store fronts

There are an enormous number of beautiful buildings to be discovered

This was once the foyer of a theatre, now broken up into stalls

This place had the most amazing vaulted ceilings with plaster cornices etc.  I was not allowed to photograph inside – it is now a house of God.

I believe the sign translates colloquially  to “Jesus Christ is the Dude”.  I should work on my Spanish.

I took some pictures of some fabulous cakes and cowboys boots and also the interior of a restaurant called “Clifton’s” which is straight out of Twin Peaks.  I’ll send ’em if anyone is interested.

More later!