Monday, October 31, 2005

WeHo Hallowe'en

At 2 p.m., the boulevard is closed to vehicular traffic, and Boystown takes on an eerie air... tents and stages are being erected; the gym is deserted; only a few patrons are getting plastered on the outdoor patios of the bars, or playing on their powerbooks at the Starbucks.

It is blazing hot (if only it would be the same tonight!) outside, the warmest Halloween I can remember. Good for those baring flesh, not so good for walking from La Cienega in the heat. I could really use a nap before the fun starts tonight, but I'm not likely to get one.

As Bette Midler said, "eggs will be laid tonight!..."

Saturday, October 29, 2005

No Way to Start The Weekend

Man oh man... it was heads or tales where I was going to buy dinner last night, and what I'd have when I got there, but I never expected to get food sickness from the Whole Foods Market. The inside of my mouth still feels like the wallpaper was ripped violently off the walls.

Though temporary, the feeling of helplessness, alone and unable to call anyone for help late at night, was downright scary. I think it's a safe bet that I won't be having pad thai again any time soon--or Naked Foods juice. At least I was able to laugh with Brice this morning at the absurdity of getting sick from food I'd bought at the high-end uber-trendy health food store. I was in line at the cashier there once behind Nelly Furtado, but I would never have known if not for some of the employees swarming around excitedly after she left to talk about it. Little bird of a person, that one.

Ah, yes, life in LaLa Land. I have no idea who the "celebrity judges" are for the Halloween costume contest. My points of reference for pop culture and its' icons are out of step with the masses, I'm afraid. ...And I'm oh, so bent out of shape about it.

It has been a regular thought of late that I'm twice the age of most of the puppeies that flock to the Abbey or Eat Well or the Starbucks at Westmount & Santa Monica. A non-too-subtle push aside from hoi polloi of the gay ghetto: youth will be served!

Small consolation, then, that Brice found the battery needed for my phone.

This afternoon, I'll got to the artists meeting, now that I'm up and about, and then the Grove for a Brazilian lunch & the newsstand at the B & N before heading over to Skylight Books. Maybe I'll even cap it off with a trek down to Hennessy & Ingalls if there's time. We'll just see where the day takes us.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Goblins Gonna Getcha if Ya Don't Watch Out!

Finally, the sun is back, and even if the nights are a bit chilly for this time of year, we're in for a first-rate Halloween. I can hardly wait. The worst part will be negotiating the traffic to get down there from my Monday night meeting... but nobody wants to get there too early, or you'll be bored stiff by the time things get REALLY going.

This weekend is the anniversary of Skylight Books... so it's a holiday weekend all the way 'round.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

"It only takes a tiny corner of..."

I heard a rumble that sounded like the MUNI streetcar going by outside the window. It was only one of the city maintenance men, of course, pulling a large rubbish bin behind him. The grey, misty air, the quiet of midday; for just a moment I was in The City...

...on one of those days when you've realized too late that you've forgotten your umbrella, but the light under the clouds makes it worthwhile as you race to get inside before the little drops decide to become big ones and the wind nips at you and tries to pull your bag out of your arms...

Monday, October 24, 2005

Monday, Monday

I thought this weekend would be a total washout, but I decided at the last minute to go the the Getty on Sunday to see the Julius Shulman photo exhibition. A third of the way in, in a non-descript, 9 by 12 metal frame, was the photograph. It's the 1960 nighttime view of the house, taken from the pool area looking into the glass wall of the living room, with the lights of the Los Angeles basin below off to the horizon.

The image has been used no less than twice for the covers of
books on Shulman, and probalably illustrates not only the Case Study Houses, but the entire era of Mid-Century Modern in one elegant, sophisticated, simple scene.

I saved the image on my phone (I hope--my battery is dying, dying, dead) --not from the actual photo, encased in glass, but from the poster of the photo in the lobby of the Getty Research Library. No glare from the glass, and no guard there to tell me no picture-taking.

I've already seen one painting that paid homage to the shot in an exhibition on interpretations of Los Angeles by different artists at the Craft & Folk
Art Museum. It it probably the most famous nightime shot of the LA cityscape ever shot. Hell, It's probably the single most evocative photo of Los Angeles--if everso over idealized-- ever taken. I wasn't the only one who came to the gallery and had a personal connection with the image.

Then it was home to watch DH and Grey's Anatomy. I entertained myself by making a game of creating business card-sized seat savers for meetings with colorful, outrageous, humourous images. I've often remarked that the meetings in WeHo ought to have a competition for the most original business card graphics ...there is an unspoken status contest played out with the business cards that sometimes begs for a sociological study in its' own right. Well, I'll have the most startling images, hands down.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

California Dreamin'

For reasons unknown, it is as foggy as San Francisco this morning, with moisture in the air that pelts you as walk. The East Coast folk are lovin' in, I'm sure--those that weren't expecting brilliant Southern California sunshine. Perfect weather for a hike in Sutro Park or by Land's End to see how much of the Golden Gate bridge is visible... if one were in San Francisco. However, it's a little disconcerting for Los Angeles.

As if that one experience with that poor kid who had gone out wasn't bad enough, last night at the meeting my sponsor confirmed that someone we had both known some time ago had long since died. I guess I always wanted to believe that he was out there, somewhere; that there was some chance I'd happen upon him in a meeting someday. The other kid who was a newcomer at the same time as the guy I ran into last week was at the meeting this morning. He's been clean and sober since he got in the program. So there are those who make it. I just don't have the ability to be able to bestow that gift on anyone; I'm but another mortal in the program.

...and not being God, I'm supposed to remember, takes a lot of responsibility off of my shoulders.

So maybe it will be a good day to work on my New Orleans sketches; and perhaps take the moleskin notebook out around the city to take advantage of the atmosphere. It isn't often, after all, that L.A. has air that looks like the sky in Atget's photographs of the Parc Monceau.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Recovery Through Giving

...In the first six months of my own sobriety, I worked hard with many alcoholics. Not a one responded. Yet this work kept me sober. It wasn't a question of those alcoholics giving me anything. My stability came out of trying to give, not out of demanding that I receive.

from "As Bill Sees It," pg 275 (orginally published in the Grapevine, January 1958)

I woke up somehow with a sense of what was to come. After my morning meeting, I ran into him again, walking down Santa Monica Blvd. I asked him if he was okay, but his response was unintelligible. His cheeks were grey and pink, like he'd tumbled down a mountain and sandpapered the skin off. I'd never seen anything like it. Grey. As if his entire body was turning to ash. He gave me a look --I don't know quite how to describe it, except to say that he looked lost...

He's managed to get some time together before; doubtless, if he doesn't die, I'll see him someday in a meeting somewhere. Yet as I walked away the feeling was like being kicked in the stomach. After breakfast, I was able to reconcile that if someone were to be the lifeguard to throw him the rope to shore, it was not to be me, not at this time.

I've seen people who went out in bars, on the street, even while I was speaking on panels at the County Jail. ...And back in meetings, starting over.

His path is divinely laid out. I did what I could. It is far more important that I return to detachment than to dwell on his fate. Whether he eventually finds his way back to the program or dies while he's out there, I may never know. I'll probably see him at some time in the future when HP deigns it necessary.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

New and improved?

Well, I finally managed to get something written, submitted, and published [online] for the first time in a long time.

I have a piece at ("WeHo Guy Attends Gay Pride & Asks") seemed like serendipity when I ran into Ryan and he asked me to do a piece. As writers can be --no, nearly always are-- their own worst critics, I haven't even looked at it yet. I'll probably do the traditional cover-my-eyes; peek-with-one-eye;
read; then savagely critique it once I have the nerve.

...then, to put my self-doubt into perspective, I just ran into a kid who gave me a cake for my 20th birthday, yet has not been able to stay sober since. It breaks my heart to see such a talented, irreplaceable soul heading to ruin, unable to pull himself out. He turned down my offer to go for coffee, but I want to keep the door open, if he needs to talk. But for the Grace of God...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

En Silver Lake Veritas

Making my way through the morning Paramount Studio rush hour en route to the Cafe Tropical, it occurs to me I was perhaps a little too harsh in my musings about Jesse Metcalfe: "Be Not Inhospitable to Stangers Lest They be Angels in Disguise." The thought of him paired up with Justin Mentell (the only thing worthwhile to look at on "Boston Legal") alone is enough to redeem him. But it's T.R. Knight of "Grey's Anatomy" that is the darlingest cherub on the tube these days. And isn't Sanda Oh the Fierce Ruling Diva of television? What ever they are paying her, isn't half of what she's worth...

I so so miss, thinking about it, Bradley Whitford during the hey day of "The West Wing." Now that was a hottie that you could have dinner with, feasting on the impassioned look in his eyes...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Good Night, and Good Luck

Saturday night we went to the Grove (with a lobby right out of Grand Hotel) to see a film that couldn't have been more in contrast with the surroundings. "Good Night, and Good Luck" was a superb motion picture. It ought to be seen by every one in the country. So go, now, and see it. See it for all the Karl Roves of the world. Alas, the only special effects were the seamless blending of newsreel footage into the film; not a hobbit or explosion in the entire flick. Thus, it will probably be seen only by the predictable handfull of usual suspects in the Blue States.

Damn, but that was one elegant lobby. The only thing missing was an espresso bar, with one of those huge old-fashioned copper espresso machines. That and perhaps Garbo or Bette Davis gliding elegantly past. We had to settle for seeing Jeffrey Sanker blabbering away into his cell phone.

Sunday night, the thunder and lightning was so fierce it set off all the car alarms on the block after one explosion. It was a quick morphing from
"These are a Few of My Favorite Things" in "The Sound of Music" to the scene from "Poltergeist" where I found myself counting "one thousand, two thousand, three thousand, ...." Then another "boom!" knocked a poster off the wall.

Monday night was even worse. I rolled over in bed and realized the roof was leaking... right next to me. I ended up, much later, laying down on my sleeping bag just before dawn. I'm still drying out the clothes that soaked up the dropping rain. So much for their "unsinkable" new, unleakable roof.

Today it is supposed to dry out. I even had a glimmer of sun for a brief moment, but I'm not going to put too much hope on it holding out. Maybe by tomorrow I'll find myself back in the Southern California I know.

Perhaps it was the lunar eclipse, but it was a bad day all around: my nephew had his car stolen, my brother lost his cell phone, the manager of the building had his apartment broken into (but at least in his case the perp was caught... he never got further than the far end of the block).

With all that was going on, I forgot to celebrate Karl Rove's fall from grace.

Monday night's "CSI: Miami," while featuring a horrificly trite script, did offer a brief, but inspirational glimpse of Adam Rodriguez that was a true testament to the Men of Miami. Yeah, I know he's actually from New York, but he and Eddie Cibrian (who actually is Cuban-American), Naveen Andrews and Matthew Fox, and Freddie Prinze, Jr. (yet again another sit-com with a recycled sophomoric script, but I could watch him with the sound off) make it worthwhile to watch tv. That and my nightly dose of "Sex in the City" re-runs. Still the most intelligently written show on the tube, and it's what? five years old now? Did I forget to mention Josh Duhamel? I'm afraid I'm over the gardener. Jesse Metcalfe may have all the prerequisites, but he's just too... I dunno, whiny and easily forgotten. Bree's breakdown alone at the dinner table at the the end of season one was one of the best acted moments in television I can recall in a very, very long time.

Just where are all the gay "Lost" fans, anyway? Someday should have started a fansite by now. I got a kick out of someone on the net figuring out how to get the numbers (and if you watch the show at all, you know what numbers I mean) to correspond with lattitude and longitide to a location in the South Pacific. Cool. But even with a $340 million jackpot, I'm not planning on
buying a lottery ticket.

How I stumbled across it, I don't even remember, but the little webclip of Paul and Frank of the BS Squad was downright hilarious. I don't care if they're really gay or not... if they don't secure the needed funding for any project they have in mind, it's only because of their own lack of marketing skills. That, and more invitations to Fire Island than they could possibly respond to (or want to).

Screaming babies... and they're not any of my nieces or nephews (the little darlins'). So I'm outta here.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
I miss it both night and day
I know that it's wrong...
This feeling's gettin' stronger
The longer, I stay away
Miss them moss covered vines...
The tall sugar pines
Where mockin' birds used to sing
And I'd like to see that lazy Mississippi
Hurryin' into Spring

The moonlight on the bayou
A Creole tune
That fills the air
I dream
Of magnolias in bloom
And soon I'm wishin' that you were there

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
And that's where I left my heart
And there's something more
I miss the one I care for
More than I miss New Orleans

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
And that's where I left my heart
And there's something more
I miss the one I care for
More, more than I miss, New Orleans

Friday, October 14, 2005

Crepuscolo deglio dei

We've been enjoying the most wonderous of Santa Ana winds, those of us not living in the hills, of course, watching over their shoulders for the first sign of fire. The lights of Hollywood promise perhaps the last weekend evening of the year when you may go out without even a sweater at any hour.

It is
so not like Miami; the air is as dry as could be imagined. For some reason, though, I can't get out to enjoy it. There are so few places to go... our main gathering places around town are packed to the gills with tourists, which can be enjoyable at some times of the day, but not when you just want to ramble at your own pace, or enjoy a coffee at some cafe and watch the passing parade.

Yet it is not San Francisco, either, where the threat of a chilling wind might follow the pleasant part of the evening with little or no warning.

The following day, I am up at dawn--later than during Summer proper, reminding us that winter is coming. I waste the my time during the heat of the morning; afternoon and evening will be taken up with West Hollywood. I guess it is here, whether I like it or not, that I will enjoy my twilight (if the locals will allow me).

Perhaps tomorrow or Sunday I'll get to the beach, escape the heat, and ogle the flesh. I still have many blank pages in my sketch book, if too many are already taken up with drawings of the coast from Point Dume and the Palisades to Hermosa and Manhattan.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Columbus Day Weekend

I'm off to the Grand Avenue Festival, which I missed last year. From the LA Music Center to California Plaza there will be five blocks of music, performance, art, food, and who knows? Maybe you. This is slightly more corporate than the festivals on the Little Tokyo/Arts Distict side of downtown... actually, a lot more corporate. This is art 'sanitized for your protection' as it were. That doesn't mean it isn't worth the effort to explore.

I'm always trying to imagine the ghosts of Bunker Hill past looking down on the festivities, and I wonder what they would make of it all. Sam Kaplan, among others, has written extensively about the giant plans to undo the urban mish-mash of Grand Avenue. Like him, I have my reservations that the millions or billions that they are going to throw at correcting their urban planning nightmare will be well spent. These guys are like the Michael Brown/Halliburton of innovative, people-friendly architecture and urban design. The effect they are trying to create with their Grand Avenue master plan most often happens organically, by accident, and sometimes over time. There will be no re-creation of or inference to the complex history of the neighborhood in their planning, I fear. Not even a whisper of what Bunker Hill was, or what it meant to the city's history. There will be ample opportunity for the newly arrived upwardly-mobile residents to insulate themselves from the melting pot of the vibrant communities below them, however...

Friday, October 07, 2005

4 8 15 16 23 42

La Mer by Charles Trenet

La mer
Qu'on voit danser le long des golfes clairs
A des reflets d'argent
La mer
Des reflets changeants
Sous la pluie
La mer
Au ciel d'ete confond
Ses blancs moutons
Avec les anges si purs
La mer bergere d'azur
Pres des etangs
Ces grands rouseaux mouilles
Ces oiseaux blancs
Et ces maisons rouilles
La mer
Les a berce
Le long des golfes clairs
Et d'une chanson d'amour
La mer
A berce mon coeur pour la vie

English translation

The sea
which one sees dancing along the clear gulfs
to sparkle of silver.
The sea
Of changing sparkles
Under the rain.
The sea
Confuses the summer sky's fleece
With angels so pure.
The Sea
Shepherdess of blue infinity.
Next to the ponds
Those tall wet reeds.
Those white birds
And those rusty houses
The Sea
Has cradled them
Along the clear gulfs.
And with a song of love
The Sea
Has cradled my heart for life.

So yes, I'm a fan of Lost; perhaps a little obsessed. There is something about the mysteries of this show that pull you in and confuse you to no end.
With all the troubles of the world, a little escape is called for, no? Why else would we resolve the issues of our day when we dream...

As hardcore fans will know, this song was from Episode #12. The instrumental version with which they ended that night's episode was particularly haunting.
I guess the bunker at the bottom of the hatch is all the more plausible to me given that my father was serving on a missile crew underground during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I presume the bunkers the crews had then were much starker than that on the show, yet memories triggered by the revelations since the start of the second season (sorry if I spoiled it for anyone who hasn't yet watched the program) keep cascading daily. As a kindergardener, we had a field trip to visit the non-classified portion of the man-made cave in the middle of the mountain.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Well, here we go....

I'll start rambling soon... I'm looking forward to hearing from those who have been uprooted by the recent hurricanes along the Gulf.