Archive for the ‘May 2010’ Category

Topanga Days – May 30, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Greetings!  I am winding gently into day #3 of the Memorial Day long weekend and am celebrating by doing work for Canadian clients.

Saturday I hopped in the Mustang and headed out to Topanga Canyon for the Topanga Days festival.  It is basically a small local affair with kiddy rides and foods stalls and music stages.

It was there that I had a chair massage by the gentleman pictured below.  He looks gentle enough, and I imagine he is Thai but it was the HARDEST massage I have ever had.  If he were Vietnamese I would suspect he learned his techniques from his relatives while they were practicing on John McCain or any other American POW.  I felt great afterwards but I have had plenty of massages in my life and this was the toughest.

Unlike most Canadian local festivals, this had a decided SoCal tinge to it.  I don’t know many Ontario fairs that would proudly feature not one but two vegan stalls.

I reacted by buying myself a pulled pork sandwich which I immediately spilled down the front of my white shirt.  It left a stain of an orange hue not readily found in nature.  I suspect the shirt is a write off, as well may be the case for my lower intestine.

This stall was selling crystals of all sorts.

This one hats and scarves and incense

There were a couple of stages.  The main stage was featuring a female duo who were frankly pretty weak and did possibly the worst AC/DC cover I have ever heard.  The smaller stage, tucked away down the back side of the hill, featured a much more promising rock band whose singer sounded quite a bit like Brian Johnson of AC/DC.  Odd, two AC/DC references in the same paragraph.

Will Geer (televisions “Grandpa” from the Waltons) started a theatre company here years ago.

All in all this is the kind of place where patchouli and handkerchief blouses are still considered a good idea.  The canyon is huge and beautiful, the people laid back and peaceful (and very probably stoned off their gourds)

And has the added bonus of winding up here:

Check out the size of that beach, and the relative number of people on it.  And this was the Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend.

In the spirit of the “Doing All Things Jane” I have found a spa in West Hollywood with Russian baths and am going for a massage and brunch.  I will have to be careful – I have managed to burn my feet, knees and shoulders over the course of the weekend.  I was at the beach yesterday with Anny and her clan (saw her delightful mother and step father for the first time in 20 years).  I was introduced to her cadre of ex-New Yorker Jewish housewife friends –  all paired with men significantly their senior, all with children, none with a job, all with more money than god.  One of the men (who looked a little like a cranky younger version of Uncle Fester) is evidently worth over 100 million dollars.  Nice enough group, not my peeps, not a lot to talk about.  When I left they were talking about the difficulty of labeling their children’s clothing for sleep away camp.

Off for a rubbing, more later.

Memorial Day Continues – May 31, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

In a fit of remarkably un-Jane like behavior I bought nothing in the store below (Ok, it was closed)

Nor did I buy the ridiculous, do-up-with-your-own-tail rhinestone snake shoes.

But I DID buy the ridiculous tank top w/depiction of the Last Supper in sequins.

Intervention?  Anyone?

Jessica’s friend Emily was telling me about her search for the ultimate Korean bath house in LA.  Evidently there are many of them – you get access to their baths and hot pools and massage chairs for about $15 and you can stay for the day!  There is an additional treatment whereby you have all the dead skin loofahed off and then are sloughed with buckets of water.  Sounds like torture, am told it feels great.  I spent the morning at a Russian spa.  I had a traditional Swedish massage and then went to use their waters.  They have a treatment called Platza, which you start by sitting in their hot steam room.  (They brag it is the hottest in North America – over 200 degrees.  Imagine the hottest place you’ve ever been.  Now double it.) Then you alternate the sitting and baking with jumping under a cold, pounding waterfall shower, then plunging into an ice bath.  Sort of like the Scandinavian baths in Mt Tremblant only inside and more extreme.  You do this three times and on the third time they beat you (lightly, or so they claim) with something called a Venik, which frankly looks like a bunch of branches.  You pay for this.  I did not opt for this treatment though I did do the Bake/Shower/Plunge rotation once.  Then I shot off for brunch and stuffed myself to bursting with blintzes.

Between this, the Korean baths and the massage I had by the Khmer Rouge guy on Saturday I am thinking that these Commies have an odd sense of cleansing and personal hygiene.  Kind of purgatory-oriented, methinks.

Back to the quest tomorrow, and I am sure more adventures on the horizon.


Runyon Canyon – May 29, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

I keep threatening to send pictures of Hollywood Blvd to serve as a contrast to some of the other places I have been, then I go do something else and get distracted.  Today’s subject is Runyon Canyon.  Yet another huge tract of unadulterated countryside, this a 15 minutes walk from my front door.  I never would have known it was there if Jessica hadn’t invited me to an open air yoga class on Friday morning at the foot of the canyon.  And yes, you heard that right.  An open air yoga class.  My indoctrination is almost complete.

Yesterday was the Friday of the Memorial Day weekend.  You could have shot a cannon off into production land without fear of hitting anyone.  They, like us, have a tendency to extend long weekends wherever possible so I felt no remorse in taking the day off to do some hiking.  I DID feel remorse that I thought jeans would be appropriate hiking gear but I thought originally I was just going for a little wander.  Not so.

The following were taken from what I thought originally was the top of the mountain.  It was not.

That is downtown LA off in the distance on the left

And downtown beverly Hills off in the distance in there.  You can make out the ocean in the distance (if I had sent bigger pics)

The canyon with trail in background

Oddly enough, there are a couple houses right up in the middle of the park.  This one was for sale.  $4,200,000.00

Here’s the listing if you are thinking about making an offer.  I must say, it’s pretty nice

Then there was this place, complete with aged beater car and airstream trailer.  And goats and horses, all enjoying a fantastic view

A view of the farm from above

THIS was the actual top of the mountain, reached from front door to apex in just under an hour.  These pictures are of the valley side of the mountains – Burbank, Glendale, etc

I am learning to love the naming conventions here.  If you want to go to Santa Monica, take the Santa Monica Freeway.  If you want to go to Pasedena, take the Pasedena freeway.  Hollywood, same.  And if you are looking for some booze …

I will send the actual pics of Hollywood freakery a little later.  I hope everyone is well.  We are FINALLY warming up – the weather should reach the 80s this weekend.  Just in time for the entire population (myself included) to hit the beach.


Hollywood Boulevard – May 29, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

This is going to be the first of a two parter – the second are some of the more freaky details of this fine boulevard.  These are just pictures of some of the local establishments

A costume store, right at the foot of my street, with an astonishing array of wigs

There’s lots of deco, plenty of it hidden behind appalling little dollar stores and seedy clothing joints

And then there’s just the seedy clothing joints.

Musso and Frank – one of the oldest restaurants in LA and amazing on the inside – dark, deco, and the air of mobsters still lurking in the booths

Cheesy museums – you could be in Niagara Falls!

There is the walk of fame (here well represented by cinema’s acclaimed Scarecrow)

Graumann’s Chinese.  No pictures of Spiderman or Iron Man or Freddy or any of the other requisite costumed freaks.  Not because they weren’t there, but because I am too cheap to pay ’em.  (Plus, I may end up as one of them one day)

Olivia de Havilland must have been a midget – my hands are about a third again as large as hers

This is where they have the Academy Awards celebration, I believe

Old theatres on the strip.  Does anyone actually believe Jake Gyllenhal isn’t gay?

These are some of the more touristy (read clean) sites to be seen.  More in a bit on the underbelly parts.


Things Boys Don’t Care About – May 27, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Little silk dresses with skulls in headdresses (am I about to launch into the tune of “My Favorite Things” from the Sound Of Music?  I think not)

Distressed leather jackets (see what happens when you are not around, Camielle?)

Wings and blings and guns and skulls.  (I AM 43, right?)

And really cool one-of-a-kind patch pants

I bought the pants from the same store that I bought a skirt last year that had little scraps of the american flag and skulls all over it.  I told the salesperson that I thought there was a chance the skirt was too short and I was too old.  She said “There is no such thing as either one of those things”.  I think I love her.

All purchased on Melrose, bien sur.  I think I will give the credit card a rest.  For now.

Random Stuff – May 27, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

I am sending along some random pics from today, but really I have to report on my new favorite movie theatre ever.  It is called the Arclight, it’s at Sunset and Cahuenga (a 10 minute walk from the apartment), it shares space with the Cordon Bleu cooking school.  The proximity alone would have made it a contender. Add in big squishy seats, reserved seating (yep, you request an actual seat number when you buy in), really big screens, really great sound systems, and a floor angled sharply enough that even if the 7′ giant called “Jaws” from the Bond movies sits in front of you, you can still see over his head.  They do NOT tolerate talking, nor cell phones, nor texting AND they do not have youth or children’s pricing because THEY ARE NOT ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND!!!!!.  Yep, an adult only theatre that doesn’t just show porn.  It’s like heaven.  Actually, it’s like a great movie theatre designed by someone exactly as cranky as me.  I saw Iron Man 2.  Too many things going on, Scarlett Johansson appears for god only knows what reason (franchise maybe?) but my secret boyfriend Robert Downey is still in fine form (Ok, the “secret” part is really still just a secret to him, but I am sure the fact that we have not nor shall we ever meet is just another small one of life’s hurdles that can be overcome)

Here are some pictures from the hood.  The first couple were taken to benefit my dad.

Here’s one of the truly scariest hotels I have seen (hello, Norman Bates)

This one I love.  “Actual Doctor”.  Well, thank goodness my primary physician managed to take some time off from working the noon show at Cheetahs to write me a prescription!

This is for  Camielle.  Or Bob.  A chihuahua with Nicole Ritchie it its purse.

Random view from Sunset Blvd.  You kind of forget the mountains are there when you are on the hoof.

Tribute to Art Linkletter (that is his star on Cahuenga)

More later.  If anyone decides to come down, we’re going to the movies!


Beverley Hills/Century City – May 27, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

In an attempt to discover all things likable about this town I have been punctuating my business meetings with forays into different aspects of LA living.  Yesterday I managed two, in between which I sandwiched an absolutely faith-restoring meeting with the local chapter of the AFM.  I was there for an hour and a half, got some great leads and was asked if I had considered running for the Board of Directors in Toronto and invited to do so in LA if I move down here.  Confidence now moderately restored.

Anyway, before my meeting I went to the Annenberg Space for Photography to see an absolutely fascinating still and video series called “Water – Our Thirsty World”.  The Annenbergs are the current version of the Hearst family.  They have made billions in publishing and spend a goodly portion on philanthropic efforts and support of the arts.  The show was sponsored by National Geographic so the images were spectacular and the gallery , though small, is brilliantly executed.    The show itself really brought home how much we take for granted our access to this resource.  Canada, for instance, as .5% of the world’s population but 9% of the world’s renewable water supply (I googled that little fact).  Fantastic show, if you come visit you must go.

The gallery is in the same complex as the talent agency giant CAA, so needless to say the landscaping was beautiful and the place smelled like money.  They have a little knoll in the middle of the buildings where you could eat lunch and broker a million dollar deal for your client where there were some fabulously expensive suits taking their repast.  The parking garage was so spotlessly clean it literally squeaked.  I was entertained by the fact that my tires were making whale calls as I drove around looking for a spot.

I have been spending a few mornings a week going for walks in Bev Hills with my friend Anny.  We have known each other since we were 15 and lost touch after college.  She moved here to be an actress and wound up a director and copywriter instead.  And she married a fabulously rich guy in the interim.  She showed me this crazy place – it is called “The Witch’s House”, built by some Disney exec in the 20s and currently unoccupied.  It has become a landmark and every Halloween the city shuts down the intersection it lies on and it becomes ground zero for trick-or-treaters

Beverly Hills is as one might expect very pretty and very well tended.  The blandest lot is worth about 3 million dollars and that is in the flats.  Prices rise the higher up the hill you go.  Not really my cup of tea.  I prefer things with a bit of an edge and the chance of getting a Mars Bar without having to warm up the lamborghini to fetch it.

Last night I went to the Pickford Center to catch some free documentaries.  The Academy of Motion Pictures (the guys who bring you the Academy Awards) own the theatre and have been sponsoring free screenings of the nominated docs every second Wednesday in the spring.  This place is only a ten minutes WALK from my place (about the distance from the Pivot office to Dundas Square) and there is another screening in two weeks.  Definitely an experience I will repeat.  Last night I saw “The Conscience of Nhem En” which was about the rule of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the 70s (think “Killing Fields”).  The doc focussed on a military prison that had been converted from a school where the Khmer Rouge tortured  and killed thousands of political prisoners, the vast majority of whom were innocent.  17,000 men, women and children went in.  Eight came out.  Eight.

The second was an Errol Morris doc on Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq which was really interesting.  Errol Morris is a brilliant documentarian (Fog of War, Thin Blue Line, Fast Cheap and Out of Control being but a handful) and Standard Operating Procedure is great, if chilling.  It centers around the very famous photographs that started the whole Abu Ghraib/Americans torturing prisoners controversy in 2004

By the way, the chick in the picture (Lynndie Englund) is very possibly a psychopath.

Today I have no meetings schedules and it is overcast.  I will spend the morning doing research and may pop over to check out Pasedena. The old city there is beautiful.  I may drive downtown to take some pictures of the old theatres there as well.  I am gradually learning my way around and am mentally buying real estate with my fictitious billions.  And dating Robert Downey Jr too while my imagination is roaming freely.

More later.  I am beginning to get more photographic subjects than I am days to send them and I don’t want to inundate you all.  Send news from home, I miss you guys.


Downtown – May 26, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

I went to see “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” with Jessica, which was pretty interesting.  They had a Q&A with the cast afterward which I have never seen before but apparently is standard practice here.  The play was interesting, the performances were pretty good.  I have to confess I have seen just as good at Stratford.  Jessica warned me the traffic might be nuts so I gave myself an hour to get to the theatre.  It only took about 20 minutes for some reason ( I CANNOT figure out the traffic pattern here and I am told that there are none).  I spent my spare time wandering around taking pictures.  Downtown LA is yet another completely different vista – like another place altogether and largely empty after business hours.

I went to pick up the tickets at the Will Call and the place was absolutely abandoned except for me, a lone sax player, and James Lipton.  I am not kidding.  He is freakish looking in real life – cadaverously thin and white with appalling skin and a head like Nefertiti.

Jessica showed up then and we were musing on the surreality of the scene when I duck landed in the middle of the square.  A mallard, and we were downtown – miles from the ocean.  I thought it couldn’t get any weirder.  Then Kevin Bacon showed up.

Seriously, only in LA.


More Melrose – May 25, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Good day to all.  I hope you all have lovely Victoria Day weekends.

Here are some pictures of my weekend stomping ground.  Very different from the Hollywood Strip.

I thought of Kim when I saw this:

Medical marijuana is legal in California.  It is remarkable how many people in this town seem to be suffering from glaucoma.

Local stores, most very funky.  The look these days seems to be “Wings & Blings”  Lots of angel wings on T-Shirts (both men & women).  Lots of studs and sequins and rhinestone accents as well.  I have to confess, I have succumbed.

Good old Fleuvog, for a shot of Canadiana

I did NOT apply for a job at this fine establishment.

I experienced my first case of “what the hell do I think I am doing?” this morning.  I don’t know whether to be distressed or amazed that it took this long.  I can’t believe I have been here for over a week.  Time just slips away.  I have a meeting this morning at Warner Music publishing and am later meeting up with an old recording engineer friend.  I am hoping that once I get into the swing of the meetings I will get more secure.  I just had a flash of the enormity of the task at hand.  Yipes!

I have theatre tickets with my friend Jessica tonight and am going to see some free documentary screenings tomorrow, so I am hoping to make the most of my time here on my down time as well as during the day.  It is Memorial Day this coming weekend so I imagine my chances of scheduling anything significant after Thursday afternoon are about as likely as me finding Bin Laden in a hookah bar on Venice Blvd.  Actually I bet the latter is more likely.

Wish me luck, and love to you all.


Buchan’s Holiday Haven – May 24, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

So here’s a study in contrasts for you.

My pal Noelle came down for a visit this weekend (Note to all of you:  It CAN be done)  in the interests of space and frankly because it was available we decamped to John Buchan’s apartment just off the very cool Melrose strip that I have mentioned.  About a 5 minute drive from the apartment on Hollywood, about a world away in style.

The spare bedroom (note hopscotch carpet)

The dining area

Living Room with walk out to small deck


Ensuite laundry (bless his soul)  I carted all my dirty gear down here like a kid home from college and have been reveling in my to-date avoidance of the basement laundry pit.

The bathroom and powder area.  Bathroom has a deep soaker tub and heated lights

The master bedroom and its not one but TWO massive closets.  One thing I have noticed about this town – they truly understand closet space.  Even the smallest studio apartment has a tonne of closets.  Bathrooms are another story.  This is the home of the “One-er”.  If you go to almost any restaurant you will discover that they often only have a single stall.  This is a phenomenon I have witnessed at small intimate cafes and restaurants with a 300 seat capacity.  What conclusion can be drawn?  That everyone has a tonne of clothes but they are so uptight they don’t pee?  I will have to do a study.

Here’s his view of the Hollywood sign.  Believe it or not this sort of thing significantly increases property value.

And here’s his view of the secret backyard nook his next door neighbour has and I covet.

Anyway.  I am spending my last day here doing laundry, doing research, sending emails and eyeing his big screen TV with TiVo and cable.  I am sure I will be able to coax myself out, if only to go back to the stores I visited with Noelle to cast aside the restraint I exhibited yesterday and buy all the cool things I saw.  Maybe not the $500 leather jacket.  But it was gooooooood.

Cheers.  More later.  I have some good shots of the farmers market I want to share.

News from the warm front?  (20 here today, 28 there today.  Bastards)