Tuesday, February 28, 2006

If Ever I Cease To Love

Today's link is The Gumbo Pages by Chuck Taggart which will teach you everything you need to know about New Orleans ...and why you should care what happens to the Crescent City.

2/27 4:42 p.m. Torino. I had not planned on watching the Winter Olympics at all. I'm not a fan of winter sports per se --not even the feyest of ice skating routines. I know, minus ten gay points.

I have some residual memory of when I was a kid getting a kick out of the feel and sound of the crunch of snow under my shoes and the tinkling of the trickling of melting ice. Sledding at recess behind our one room school house. Throwing open the curtains to watch with awe as snow fell on Christmas Eve. Catching snowflakes on the tip of your tongue.

That was a long time ago.

So, of course, not in my plan, but I end up watching the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics at Torino on television. It was nice. Neat, even. I'd even cal it inspiring. Then Bode Miller's face started showing up everywhere --on the cover of every magazine, including the NY Times Sports magazine. I honestly had never heard of the guy. And if I never hear of him again, I wouldn't mind.

Ah, but then along came Apolo Anton Ohno. In every interview he's unfailingly articulate and polite. And cute as all get out. And he could skate.
He's got five Olympic medals that says so, too. Not 'til today did I learn he was on the cover of Cosmopolitan and somebody's 50 sexiest men list. I don't have a list, but if I did... he'd beat out Matthew McConaughey (and George Clooney) in a heartbeat.

Do enough interviews with people and you get a feel for who's genuine. I like the kid. He's got the great All-American story: raised by a single parent who worked two jobs to support Ohno's training. Found sport to stay out of trouble. He's helped raise money (I think the last count I saw was in the nature of $11 million) for Ronald McDonald House in his native Seattle in addition to giving back to innumerable other charities. A role model --and dare I say it?-- hero, to the entire Asian-American community.

And did I mention he was cute? I'm not a betting kind of person as a rul
e, but I have a feeling he's not likely to end up in Betty Ford. Of course, he's young still, and the Island of Lost Boys may yet sing their siren song.

If I was annoyed at anybody during the Winter Olympics, it was the NBC reporter who kept repeatedly pressing Ohno to say if he was going to Vancouver in 2010 or retire --while the kid was still trying to get his breath back and process the single most important moment in his life. It was like sticking a microphone in the face of a mother who just lost her kids in a fire and asking, "How do you feel?" Even if you didn't go to j-school, you know what I mean.

The closing ceremonies were even better than the opening. I want one of those 125 mph air blowers! Way cool! Look at those guys flying in the air! You just knew they were having a good time! It looked like a lot of fun to me.

Tom Brokaw's moving segment on the role of African Americans in the liberation of Torino from the Nazis, had it aired prior to the Olympics or at the beginning, along with the stunning kick-ass photography of Torino and the Alps they showed in the last 30 seconds of Sunday night before they started running their credits, might have given NBC a big boost in their ratings. Instead of the worst television viewing audience in 20 years, it could have been the highest. Someone tell the mucky-mucks at NBC they blew it. Nobody's fault but their own. They can't blame it on "Dancing with the Stars" or whatever other crap was on television. The major networks all had re-runs on, I guess in assumption that everyone would be watching the Olympics. And in just a few minutes of airtime at the end of it all, it was obvious that NBC had assembled the talent in Torino that they needed to hold the audience.

I caught myself thinking how great it would have been to watch the final footage on a flatscreen. Hey, I got to see it. And the NY Times did have a full page photo of Ohno inside. Was it racism that had the (presumably heterosexual) white male on cover of every major media outlet? Was it the conventional wisdom or presumption of Miller's celebrity draw that made them proceed with the biggest embarrassment of amateur athletics for the foreseeable future? I'd like to listen in on what some journalism profs would have to say about that in their classroom discussions.

Whatever. The Winter Olympics are over now. I found a new poster boy. The next time I get to see Apolo Anton Ohno will probably be on a Wheaties box. If he doesn't compete in Vancouver, NBC would be fools not to have him do commentary. He never faltered once on camera that I saw. Oh, that's right. They are fools. But even fools can learn from their mistakes. Or not.

Anyway, enough of that. It's Mardi Gras and time for some serious celebrating. ...and that is not a contradiction in terms, especially where this year's Mardi Gras is concerned.
Do yourself a favor and click onto the Gumbo Pages, and you'll see what I mean. The sun is shining, it's a beautiful day out. Go out and play.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Laissez les Bon Temps Roulez!

2/25 8 p.m. Saturday night before the impending storm I picked up a po' boy at the Gumbo Pot, serenaded by musicians from New Orleans. Hollering for beads was infectious --they had little girls throwing them, as often as not, on the roof.

In WeHo the LA Times newsrack had a little sign advertising their ongoing coverage of the mother of all awards shows (when people in "the industry" think the sun rises and sets around them) that read, "Who's going to go home with the little guy?" --Did they come up with that just for Boystown, I wonder?

The Feb. 27 issue of Newsweek had a nice piece about Mardi Gras in New Orleans by Michael Patrick Welch that complemented their 'hard' coverage of New Orleans recovery very poignantly.

2/26 2 p.m. I'm such a pig. I listen to the fascinating experiences of others, and envision myself living their lives. I'm the kid in the candy store who doesn't understand why I can't have one of everything. It completely slips my mind that hey! I've had one of those lives, too! It's been full of a lot of laughs, tons of excitement, and more experiences and sensations and variety than most people could ever dream of.

And you know what? It's perfectly okay to want more. No, I don't discount the life I've had, thinking it more constricted and narrow than some (there's no winning at that); it isn't at all a case of envy or coveting what I don't have. No, just a good old fashioned case of if some is good, more is better. After all, someday it will all come to an end, and I don't want any regrets for what I could have done but didn't.

2/27 'Fat Monday' 6:33 a.m. This year especially, as New Orleans and the Gulf Coast celebrates Mardi Gras as well as declares to the world its determination to come back after the natural (and government) disasters, it signifies more than the 'farewell to the flesh' but the whole of the pagan holiday that represents renewal and the spirit of rejoicing and reaffirming their survival through the darkest hour.

Perhaps no one as much as those in recovery could appreciate the symbolism. It is very much a part of what sets Southern California AA apart from the rest of the country: how we shout and cheer and celebrate and acknowledge various lengths of sobriety, recognizing that especially at certain points our spirit may waver a bit or be more vulnerable than at others. Like handing Gatorade to a runner to prevent their dehydration, we spur each other on, knowing what it means to have survived.

For those not in recovery, it may be hard to fathom, but this path we have had to walk has been divinely ordained for us to follow. It is an awesome responsibility, to be silent partners on this spiritual journey. Why couldn't it have been a little easier? And with a lower body count? This, the eve of my last drink 25 years ago is cause for some navel-gazing, to be sure, but it is something that for those of us who have been given this incredible gift we know --and must be constantly reminded-- of the obligation that comes with it. If you saw yourself die, and come back, how could you possibly delude yourself in thinking that your life is yours to do with as you please? To some degree, there is a lot of latitude in the choices we are allowed to make. But we must never, ever, forget that when all is said and done that we have turned our lives over to a power greater than ourselves; and it is in the service of that greater good that we must be.

It's weird, and wonderful, and scary. Even after all these years, like your first trip to Disneyland or the seeing Northern Lights. Sobriety is the ultimate orgasm, and whatever Tantric tricks Sting is doing to make his last, ours are even longer, and more of a rush, guaranteed. It's a life with a really yucky birthing process, though, and I wouldn't wish it on anybody. Anybody who isn't already slated to receive it, that is. If you are, then it's like, wow! Flying over the Swiss Alps like Peter Pan. Like those flying dreams I used to have when I was a kid (I had the top bunk and would wake up in the morning on the floor, but man, it was flying).

Saturday, February 25, 2006

One of my favorite stores just moved to the heart of WeHo

My Twelve Step Store has moved into the building where Little Frida's used to be, at 8730 Santa Monica, #B.

It's a great little gift shop with books, candles (no bells), t-shirts, birthday cards and lots of twelve step-oriented gifts. Check it out if you're in the neighborhood.

Friday, February 24, 2006

"And now, for the winner of the ugliest drag queen prostitute contest..."

Last night as I arrived home there was a drag queen prostitute working the corner by my apartment building-- and trust me, she did not direct any James Bond movies.

Picture Chaka Khan, eating like Kirstie Alley before she hooked up with Jenny Craig, with the lips of Jessica Rabbit and a wig that consisted of the tangled and flea-ridden pelts of several mangy brownish-orange mutts.

Could heterosexual men be that desperate? She was tragic and scary at the same time. And I won't even start on her dress...

Vivir en Hollywood...

This morning KPCC's Airtalk with Larry Mantle* had a segment broadcasting live from the corner of Hollywood and Gower, 1.44 miles from my front door.

Residents, business owners, community activists and homeless youth spoke out for and against a proposed 60 bed facility that would provide transitional housing and services for the enormous homeless youth population in Hollywood. Three guesses which side of the debate the homeowners and the youth were on-- and you're first two don't count.

There are more homeless youth on the streets of Hollywood than there were residents left in New Orleans last fall. This issue has been studied, argued, planned for, and underserved for more than forty years!

In the 1920s, the good people of Hollywood went so far as to take out ads in newspapers back east, urging people not to try their luck at seeking fame and fortune here, as the community was already overwhelmed by hopefuls who were destitute. Police routinely turned back people trying to enter California during the Great Depression.

Next year will be the 40th anniversary of the "Summer of Love," which fueled an even greater migration of youth to California. Many of today's young people are refugees of unspeakable abusive horrors which negates any humane possibility of them returning to their families of origin.

California has known nothing but waves of newcomers since --well, since the Spanish began annihilating the indigenous population before America was even a country.

The representative for the homeowner's association who spoke on the program appeared to be out of touch with scale of the problem taking place below her home in the hills. In voicing her concerns that providing services to those most critically at need, she suggested that the area would become a magnet for even more homeless. Hello?!? Not only does the need exist now but it has existed at crisis levels since long before the gentrified sections of Hollywood began commanding rents on the order of the toniest quarters of Paris, New York, or Rio. The only solution to make the problem go away for those in denial would be along the order of methods tried in Serbia or Rwanda.

The issue is not going to wait until we have another dot-com styled bubble in our economy; it's here, now. These kids are dying on the streets and we as a society are killing them.

Kudos to Larry Mantle for putting the issue right in front of us so we can't ignore it.

* Click on the link at left to KPCC and Airtalk to hear the program.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

some new posts of interest

Since all Americans should be watching and reading what's going on in New Orleans, I've included a couple of local sites for reputable information there: The Times-Picayune, and the N.O. Public Library.

My brother turned me on to a hilarious parody site, "Rude Pundit" ...because sometimes the real news is too much to take (and at times it's hard to tell where the parody stops and the real news begins).

And last, a couple more literary sites, including one of my favorite SoCal mystery writers (and a former newspaperman), John Morgan Wilson.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

It was just too nice of a day to be true... *

...So I get tagged for jury duty in downtown LA come April.

This weekend there was an incredible sunset with clear skies and a gentle breeze that turned into a flag waving, teeth-chattering reminder that it was still February as soon as the last of the sun's rays had disappeared. I wrote the following on the way back into town:

I live in Hollywood, California, USA.

The land of a million dreams. A place built on illusion and fantasy...

...and hope.

Daily there are the throngs of tourists from around the globe (and who knows? Perhaps the galaxy--we've been beaming those radio waves into space for more than 80 years now) shuffling bewildered from one "attraction" to another. We are entertained by sidewalk musicians who have dreams of hitting it big one day. We are hit up for change by those who lost the faith in the dream, or came here because they saw a place on the television one night where the wind won't chill you to the bone or life will be sparkling instead of bleak.

Some of those who come here feel bitter; they'd been tricked, sold a false bill of goods. But any con man will tell you that you can't cheat somebody who doesn't want to believe in the illusion.

There are plenty of folks here who persist in that belief, when all evidence points to the contrary. Sad to say, but there are even those among us who conspire on purpose to prop us the illusion at all cost, even when it would be better for them and everyone else if they'd just let it fall.

It seems to defy all sense of reason at times for anyone to populate an arid stretch of coast fraught with faultlines prone to periodic upheaval.

Still, they persist in coming here: the dreamers, those with a hunger they presume this place will satiate. Why would they with a parched throat flock to a desert?

Even if the natural landscape has been obscured and reshaped by human hands, filled with non-indigenous plant life from the world over irrigated by water brought a staggering distance, that unique quality of place persists in revealing itself. Some come as pilgrims to see and touch and return home, others to begin life anew here, to reinvent themselves as has the land itself.

There has been no shortage of critics who have felt compelled to rip into their interpretation of what they perceive to be false and fake and full of folly. Sadly, they may be the only ones it could be said are unable to see.

Perhaps it takes a seemingly barren scene for us to view the oasis as it truly is-- not ought to be or could be made over as, but could exist in its own right.

*Click on this header for the Hermosa Beach webcam and a view of one of our better beaches in LA. Great site for seeing LA sunsets over the Pacific...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Exactly Two Months until the 100th Anniversary of the 1906 Earthquake!

Could there be a better time for FEMA to reveal that they have no plan to deal with a catastrophic earthquake in California!

Some New Literary Links

The Lambda Literary Foundation has reorganized, and has a new website:

Lambda Literary Foundation

To my list of favorite bookstores, I want to add the best source for Florida mysteries:

Murder on the Beach

The largest book fair in the country, and a champion of all things literary in South Florida and Latin America, it has been a vacation destination in its own right for book lovers from around the country:

Miami International Book Fair

And the logical organization to find out more about Florida mysteries and the authors who write them:

Mystery Writers of America - Florida Chapter

A list of some of the Florida authors whose work I thoroughly enjoy, and give a well-rounded look at life in the sunshine State:

Tom Corcoran --who is the writer to read for Key West--in one novel recently he even cleverly slipped in a list of his favorite books about the Florida Keys.

S. V. Date --the Palm Beach Post reporter holds the honor of being the only journalist to be thrown out of the Florida State House --for reporting that the Speaker of the House had hired a stripper as a secretary. He has a keen sense of the workings and shenanigans of Florida state government like no other writer.

Tim Dorsey --Former Tampa Tribune author who has a bottomless pit of Floridiana ephemera that makes his madcap mysteries a must for anyone visiting Florida or the armchair tourist.

Carl Hiaasen --aside from his masterful, hilarious novels, his columns in the Miami Herald offer an ongoing look at the dirty dealings of Florida politics. There are two books of some of his collected columns that offer a rare non-fiction counterpoint to the scandals he skewers in his mystery novels.

John MacDonald --while his Travis McGee mysteries have sold in the millions, don't overlook his novel Condominium which doesn't exactly fall in the mystery category, yet describes what it happening in Florida today as clearly as when it was written 30 years ago.

Barbara Parker --a former Federal prosecutor in Miami turned mystery writer with a keen sense of Miami history and an unmatched ability to guide the reader through the legal world without talking down to you.

These are but a few of my favorite authors, of course, limited in part by those which I readily knew their website addresses. No doubt I'll add more as time goes on.

Friday, February 17, 2006

There are 325,000 names on the government terrorist list

That works out to be about one terrorist for every 912 people in the United States.

Who are they? You? Your neighbor? Your kindergarten teacher?

Everyone from Warren Olney on KCRW to Towleroad among others have brought up points about the latest wrinkle in this Cheney business that need to be looked at by everyone. The 'incident' is not over just because the president said so and for us to go about our business.

Thank you Mr. President, but it'll be over when the people of the United states say it's over. Does anyone else think if this had been a Democratic VP accidentally shooting someone that we'd have --at the very least-- another $40 million special prosecutor on our hands?

Click on the header above find a link to listen to Feb. 17th's To The Point with Warren Olney on KCRW. For a comprehensive look at the Cheney shooting incident (and its ramifications) go to the towleroad link on the left and go to Feb 17.

A brief note about who my links are

Now that I've got the first of my links posted, I should explain a little about who they are.

First up are the Miami links. I can't get enough on urban preservation, and I'm a fan of mystery fiction; and in no city in America do urban politics and mysteries go hand in hand more than in Miami. As Carl Hiaasen and so many others have said better than I could, something just happens to the most normal, even-keeled folks when they get to Miami that makes the truth stranger than fiction... and damn entertaining, even though so much is at stake--even people's lives and the outrageous damage to the environment and flaunting of the most basic civil rights.

If the evening news or your fictional television drama aren't doing it for ya, check these out:

The 26th Parallel
Critical Miami
The Next Few Hours

Next up are some of the independent bookstores around the country that offer not only unique selections at times not found in the superstore chains with 100,000 books. Don't even get me started on the degree of familiarization with literature they offer--and if it isn't on the shelf, they cane most likely get it for you. Most independents offer an array of and intimate setting for readings not found in chains. They are also on the front line of vigilance for protecting your human rights. 'Nuff said. Please preserve what shred of democracy we still have and patronize them:

Books and Books
Equal Writes
Skylight Books

A couple of my favorite artists:

Scott Haile
Jordi Labanda
Paul Madonna

and with links to a number of artists:

Salsa e Pimenta, from Portugal, of all places.

and music:

Phideaux Xavier

Some fun sites that I visit now and then:

The B Squad
Made in Brazil, with links for everything Brasil as well as fashion news from an insider (and eye candy tastefully done)
The Pretty Boys Club

For entertainment news:

Notes From Hollywood

One of the best blogs written from a recovery perspective (with yet more tasteful eye candy):

One Gay at a Time

One of the best reliable and trustworthy sources for news and information online (which as anyone reading this probably already knows is often something you have to take on faith and hope):


The local online Hollywood community news source:

WeHo News

I'll try to be more diligent about explaining who my links are and why I felt compelled to put them there as I add them.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Brrrr! It's only 60 degrees outside!

I happened to find a painting of the New Upper Terrace Market in San Francisco by artist E. Dale Erickson. It really captures the building and it's setting marvelously.

Now that is San Francisco. I've only seen a few other works depicting scenes in the City by the same artist, but if I had to live with this one... life would be good.

It might be noticed that for the San Franciscan, most familiar points of reference contrast quite a bit from those the tourists know. It really is a shame that most people scurry to and fro to all the tourist traps and don't experience San Francisco. Of course, those who remember the City from the 30s and 40s and 50s are fond of saying (like the residents of Miami Beach), "ah, but you should have seen it back then..."

And it is true, that since the early 1960s when my family first came to the Bay Area that the City has changed a great deal. The number of Victorians homes, for example, has shrunk from 18,000 then to about 14,000 now. Fortunately, the 60s brought about --along with all of the very significant change to the skyline and the psyche of the City-- a very strong sense of public stewardship in the protection of the cultural heritage of San Francisco... in far more than just the skyline.

If you should ever be so fortunate as to have the chance to visit San Francisco --or for that matter, return for a repeat visit or even live there, do your best to look at the City through a different perspective. It amazes me that not until years after I left did I ever wander around the ruins of the Sutro Baths, or see the Golden Gate Bridge from the walkway mid-span, or from the ocean-side view in Lincoln Park.

Part of the little ritual I do upon entering San Francisco that I've described before is a silent thanks that I have one more chance to see
the City. It makes me look at where I live at present with an entirely different perspective and appreciation as well. Not that any other place could ever be San Francisco.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Be patient... God isn't finished with me yet....

I've flown around the world in a plane,
I've settled revolutions in Spain,
The North Pole I have charted,
Still I can't get started...

with learning some of the basics of how to post links and so on. Given that I have but a few minute of the day to spend online, it'll be a while yet before I get up to speed.

...so if a hyperlink doesn't work, or takes you on a hunting trip with the vice president instead of where I was trying to send you, be kind. I'm getting there... I'm not sure where there is yet, but I'm getting there...

Thanks for understanding-- and if I make a gaff, please let me know.

Tomorrow They Will Kiss

Eduardo Santiago's first novel, Tomorrow They Will Kiss, will be out this July. He passed around the postcard of the bookcover and it is drop-dead gorgeous. This will be the one time in recorded history that you can judge a book by it's cover. If I only had a way to scan it! The cover graphics look so good it should be up for as many awards as the book. Of course, having already read excerpts of the book, I can say that.

Everyone is really happy for Eduardo--this has been a long time coming. His website (http://www.eduardosantiago.com) isn't up yet. We like it when good things happen to deserving people.

I like it, too, when the guilty get what's comin' to them. The Cheney hunting jokes have been better on the web than on television (although Letterman was good). One blogger (sorry--I've already forgotten who) however added the sobering reminder that this is the number two man in charge of the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet. Gulp. As the bumper sticker says,


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Two Days After The Day After tomorrow

If Jake Gyllenhaal and Dennis Quaid show up in New York ...it's time to evacuate New York!

I almost felt guilty (but almost isn't good enough!) that the temps hit 90 degrees again in LA while the New York Times reports the storm across the eastern seaboard was 1200 miles by 500 miles...

I remember sledding at recess in kindergarten behind our one room school house (can you get more f-n American than that?) the winter of the big blizzard in Cheyenne. Yes, that was 1963. I think our family went through Sage (the home of Ennis del Mar in the original Annie Proulx story of Brokeback Mountain) in order to get to Utah, as it was on the main highway. I'm pretty sure though that we never made it up to Lightning Flat (the hamlet where Jack Twist was born and raised).

Sunday was the 30th anniversary of Sal Mineo's murder. I recall one night about 10 years ago walking down Holloway Drive and realizing it was Feb. 12th. It was creepy enough that I'd never do it again. I'm not one for those macabre 'graveline tours' of the sites of Hollywood tragedies that have become so popular in recent years. The traffic jam to get around the Hollywood Forever cemetery on the nights of their movie series are bad enough.

It was fun back in high school to drive with my friends up Sunset Plaza Drive to Wonderland Avenue in dense fog while telling ghost stories. For atmosphere that will electrify the hairs on the back of your neck, nothing in my book beats a nocturnal foggy drive on either Highway One through Big Sur or along the lanes through Golden Gate Park.

Oh, how my mom could read "the bogeyman will get you if you don't watch out!" She was a one woman old-time radio show, breathing life into every character in every bedtime story she ever read. I've heard literally thousands of writers read over the years; while their delivery may have been eloquent or mesmerizing, they could never hold a candle to Mom. My love of literature --both reading and writing-- I owe to her. It's things like that I think of now, on the day before what would have been her birthday on Feb. 15th.

Well, whatever else I was going to write was lost as my mind drifted back in time. I wanted to search for the best hunting-with-Dick Cheney jokes, but I'm just not in the mood now.

Bad enough, I have to get around town with all this Valentine's Day crap everywhere. Whoopee. I regaled my neighbors with Billy Holliday this morning singing "Good Morning, Heartache." Funny thing though... before I left home, I found myself putting on Vince Guaraldi's "Linus and Lucy" --what I refer to as the 'Snoopy dance song.' It has to be about the most subconsciously uplifting song for those of us baby boomers who came of age back in the day. It's pretty hard not to be assailed with a barrage of happy memories of childhood and an outpouring of hope from some unseen source while listening to that song.

I wonder which one drives the neighbors crazy more...

Given that you can see where Peggy Entwhistle took her leap off the Hollywood sign back in 1932 from the window at the end of the hall, the Snoopy dance song is pretty cheap therapy if you ask me-- although I don't know what all that thumping around may sound like to the poor folks in the apartment under me.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Anyone up for golf with Dick Cheney?

Seldom have I so looked forward to Jay Leno's monologue (not to mention Saturday Night Live) as this week...

What do you suppose the poor fellow said before Cheney shot him?

"Sir, thank you for being so understanding about me not voting with the Party on this matter...."

What people ought to be concerned about is that the White House tried their darndest to keep this story under wraps. They're more than happy to tell you how the VP likes his eggs cooked, but when he shoots a fella, well, heck; that's another matter that's just too insignificant for the public to know...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

LA: 90 degrees Minneapolis: 28 degrees NY: 35 degrees!

I don't trust the ratings system that the networks use that lets shows I like be kicked to the curb while television is awash in @#?! reality shows. I guess I'm just not your typical viewer. Bad, bad, American, me.

I don't spend a lot of time (any, as a rule) on industry gossip (a crime punishable by death --or worse-- social exile) but I'm surrounded by the aftershocks around WB and UPN and this new CBS Warner venture. I'm relieved that Veronica Mars is already assured a slot; the Gilmore Girls may safe as well (even if does seem to be nearing the end of it's natural life cycle. It's still written better than most of the stuff on the screen.

Last night's Love Monkey was funny, intelligent; maybe not as tight as the premiere, but still well done.

And how cheeky was it calling that the "season finale" of Surface; as much as I want to see more of it, I don't trust the network to continue it in the Fall (nothing is sure in this town, except that the ground will shake underneath you at some point). In that final scene where the four heroes were running through downtown Wilmington away from the tsunami, I focused on the Princess Street sign they passed under, near the site of my great-grandfather Alex Manly's newspaper, the Wilmington Record, destroyed by a lynch mob on Nov. 10, 1898. Freaky. Then that last shot when the camera pulled away with them atop the church steeple, the whole town underwater. Cool. Cheesy CGI (like I could even tell --that I only had a 72" plasma screen to really see how cheesy!) but still it was cool nevertheless.


On page 31 and again on page 78 of the Feb. 20 issue of IN Los Angeles, there were two attacks on GLAAD questioning whether it was an organization that had outlived it's usefulness. Yet on page 20 of the same issue, no less than a half dozen incidents of antigay violence or hate speech were documented. It would seem most of those who think GLAAD unnecessary are less than willing to risk their own necks along with whatever tenuous status they have with the majority at the expense of the gay community as a whole. Hmmm.

It may seem cruel to say this, but forest fires make for spectacular sunsets. Of course, the wind has to blow just right, or you can't see it. This afternoon, downtown LA was clear and windswept clean with the strange gray mass in the sky making a great backdrop. The drifting smoke made for all manner of pinks and oranges once the sun lowered to the horizon, with the silhouettes of the palm trees pillars of black.

The falling ash recalled the nuclear fallout that never came during the Cold War. Jim took me to see "It Came From Beyond" last week, a musical spoof of those drive-in movies of the 1950s. It mostly worked; one number in particular included 'duck and cover' choreography familiar to any baby boomer. Today the ash was less benign (for those of use who don't live near any of the fires). What's really scary: the first of the boomers are turning 60! That's news I just do not want to hear!

Another 400 more homes were evacuated, and there are more fires in Malibu and Santa Clarita. So very Nathaniel West.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Ashes From the Fire Land in My Coffee

It was more than a little annoying at first, being unable to avoid the swirling little bits of ash that were coming down all around me. There was the realization that I was inevitably going to end up with ash in my coffee, and there was nothing that I could do about it. I'd not watched the news, so I wasn't aware of the extent of the fire to the east in the Cleveland National Forest that had caused at last count the evacuation of at least 2,000 homes.

Today the fire continues unabated; but the wind seemes to have changed direction enough so that the ugly, ominous cloud was no longer hanging overhead and the heat of the day could be enjoyed in full. Ironically, it's the first day in weeks that I'm not sneezing my head off incessantly.

The sidewalks of West Hollywood seem largely deserted; Ginger Rogers Beach is in all likelihood packed with anyone who has the time free to enjoy it. Perhaps I'll head out there tomorrow. The November before the Northridge earthquake, you could watch the Malibu fires burn from the shore. I watched the lines of fire marching like Sherman to the sea flames late at night from the end of the Santa Monica pier, warmed by the same Santa Ana winds that fanned the flames. It was quite the unexpected sight for the tourists. When Yuki came to visit the following summer, after we'd recovered --emotionally, at least-- from the quake, I took him on a tour of the Malibu area to show him the houses without chimneys and chimneys without houses.

Sean Penn was camping atop a mountain in a trailer on what had been the home estate he'd shared with Madonna when they were married. He had the money to rebuild, but his smoldering rage at the loss left him sitting there alone sucking on beer after beer staring at his ruins, frightening away any and all offers of help from his friends and family. The recent death of his brother makes me wonder if his family is afflicted with that curious Irish disease.

Just as the victims in most horror flicks tend to be white, so too, many of the victims of this fire, as with the last one and the one before that, were people trying to escape the hordes of darker skinned people who made up the masses of LA. It tended to temper my sympathy a bit, as beautiful as the mountains are.

Of course, a number of retreats and artist's colonies were lost in the last fire, too.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Oh, goody! My books have arrived!

I have only just finished David Rakoff's new book, "Don't Get Too Comfortable." I got his signature on his first book "Fraud" at Vroman's in Pasadena a while back and have been content (not) with his occasional contributions to "This American Life." You could get locked up for laughing out loud so much... that's how wickedly funny he is. He's a compatriot of David Sedaris, need I say more?

Speaking of appearances, Sarah Vowell, a friend to both Rakoff and Sedaris will be at Skylight Books in Los Feliz Thursday, Feb. 7 ( http://www.skylightbooks.com) and I will do my best to get to hear her read.

Meanwhile, I've just started Tom Corcoran's new mystery, "Air Dance Iguana" (finally). He is the absolute required author for getting a Key Wet vibe. No one does the Florida Keys as he does.