Sunday, December 31, 2006


Being a curmudgeon, I actually stay home on this night, I'm too cheap to pay $50 to get into a club that I wouldn't normally deign to park in front of, and what with those lovely LA specific drink checkpoints, I tend to leave this night to the party-hearty. This year at Casa Pansy entails Netflix, Fettuccine Alfredo, fresh raspberries, a half bottle of Chardonnay and compliments of my friend Lynn, Borghese Fango treatments for hair and face. I might be hungover for the first day of 2007 but I will be baby-soft.

I sincerely hope you, Constant Reader, have a happy and prosperous 2007.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Gerald Ford has died. Okay, I will burn in hell, since the guy seemed like a really nice man. He took the spoofs with good humor from Chevy Chase and "The Simpsons" and his wife did wonderful work. I'm not even old enough to not be able to forgive him for pardoning Nixon, but I don't. So there. But I am sad he's gone: he seems like a man that I could have shared a glass with.

However, I am not going to so forgiving when President McCain pardons Bush..

Friday, December 22, 2006

Marina from Perfume Smellin' Things and Ina of Aromascope have today posted an interesting blog about the first five fragrances they owned and loved, which reminded me of my youthful shopping addiction, and a story...

I was lucky enough to grow up in a lovely (if a little pretentious) college town in New England. One of the advantages of having grown up there in the late 60's and early 70's was that unlike todays "No Child Left Behind (except those whose schools we've criminally underfunded)" the powers that be thought that an actual fully rounded education complete with Art and French and music as well as sports was not only a good idea, it was mandatory. Luckily, there were literally a pool of bright young things from one of those colleges more than willing to teach children as young as 6th grade the intracases of singing or sculpting or using the potters wheel or French. I think it's important that I was exposed to these things: It's inculcated in me the slightly obnoxious idea that there is practically nothing I cannot do if I merely give it enough of a shot. You might not want to be the first person I try brain surgery on, but if you're say the fifth, you'd be golden.

In any case, one of the things that the school would have is Summer School, to which my family packed us kids off. This was more than the usual summer school: yes there were the people there who had flunked math, but there were also those kids from the college who for credit would stage shows, give classes in art, pottery, and fashion design. As you would guess, I took shop.

Did you buy that one for even a minute? Didn't think so. Well, one year they also did field trips. One of which was to New York. To look at galleries in SoHo culminating with a trip to the Met. In one Prince Street gallery was one piece of art that did it: a photo-realistic picture of a page of the New York Times crumpled up. What page you ask? One of the classifieds with an ad for Potamkin Cadillac. So realistic that you had to get right up close to realise that it was not indeed a crumpled wad of the August Times. Since that thrill lasted about 2 seconds and the Apple Store wasn't going to open for another 30 years, my friend Debbie and I ditched and headed to Bloomingdales. We knew that the group would be meeting at the Met and had previously researched our escape; we told one of the other kids what we were doing (one we knew would eventually tell but not think to ask to come along) and made a dash for the Subway.

I'll spare you most of the details of the actual trip, except to write that I found a pea-green Calvin Klein bomber jacket on sale at a ridiculously low price and somehow managed to whinge my way into making management accept an out-of-state check to get it. I got a stern lecture upon my return to the group about the perils of The City. To this day however, I think I would brave snarling wildebeest, land mines and even bad lighting for designer goods at 75% off.

And you wondered how I got this way?

Friday, December 08, 2006

The gentrification of downtown LA

Lately there's been a flood of downtown buldings that have gone from empty office space to "lofts". Now, as an ex-New Yorker of a (ahem) certain age, I have a very narrow definition of what a loft is. A loft is former manfacturing space that enterprising semi-ex-hippies carve out into space to be gallery for their art and living space. They sell with "fixture fees" that cover the cost of putting in plumbing. "Lofts" are middling sized office space repackaged as open apartments that the developers are not willing to spend the money on drywall to actually carve up into anything as conventional as, say bedrooms. These "lofts" have sprung up all over the Historic Core area of Los Angeles at prices that make me wince: is there are reason that I would pay the better part of a million dollars (like I have it) to live in the Higgins Building at Second and Main, with the construction of the new Police headquarters across the street starting every weekday at 7 and with the nearest grocery store in South Pasadena when a two bedroom condo at the corner of Palm and Beverly firmly in 90210 and two blocks from both a Ralph's and Bristol Farms costs the same?

Je ne think so pas.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Vote early, vote often

Around the country tomorrow we once again have the responsibility to exercise our right to vote. If you don't, I don't even want to know you....

Monday, October 16, 2006

In Praise of LA

Los Angeles seems to be the bastard stepchild in the eyes of movies and books. New York has it's moments of course, "Last Exit to Brooklyn", "The Warriors", even "The Out-of-Towners" made the case for New York as hell. But rarely does LA get an even break on film or print. Even movies like "L.A. Story" looks at the city as kind of a running gag, if affectionately. Other movies portray it as something much darker: whether the portrait is of a city populated entireley by criminals and psychos (and the psycho's the protagonist) like "Kiss Me Deadly" or to a lesser extent "Double Indemnity" or by harridans and narcissists "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" or "Shampoo". Want futuristic urban Dystopia? how would you like that served? Dark "Blade Runner" or light "Demolition Man"? Even is song we get the short end: Chicago might be toddlin' New York is spreadin' the news and San Francisco has so many hearts left in it they really should look into donating a few. We get Randy Newman's back-handed compliment of a song, which has been curiously embraced by city politicians, which strikes me as being as odd as say, the producers of " Little People Big World adopted his "Short People" as the theme song. There just isn't one of those big movies they do about New York that makes you as a kid want to pull up stakes and move here. There's no "Manhattan" for us.

I suppose this is for the best, since the city is bursting at the seams already and if rents go much higher I may be living in my car, but I do wish there was one or two movies that caught some of the loveliness that exists here. I know that it can be hard to find: to the casual observer it can seem that LA is all strip malls and somewhat seedy boulevards (but hey, New York doesn't all look like a Woody Allen movie either..), but some of my fondest adult memories are of LA, not New York. For every fond recollection of autumn in Central Park, I have ten of Santa Monica in the September evenings, with the foggy chill starting to some in. For every rememberance of the sultry evenings of early summer looking up at the shimmering neon lights ringing the tops of the Empire State and the Chrysler buildings, I have 10 of walking through the bone dry evenings in the summer in Beverly Hills or driving on Mulholland with the scent of jasmine being blown by the Santa Ana's.

Thanks to a friend of mine, I did manage to have a quintessentially LA movie moment: for my birthday a few years ago, my friend lent me her vintage Mercedes 450SL. I was finally able to have my Richard Gere "American Giglolo" moment: I drove down PCH, with Blondie's "Call Me" on the stereo. And yes, dammit, I'd do it again.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I'm watching the C-SPAN tribute to Ann Richards, the feisty and wholly wonderful former governer of Texas, giving her address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. Ms. Richards died this past week, and the world is a little greyer without her.

I daresay that if my party had any stones whatever, they would have run Ann as the candidate for President in 1988. I think Dukakis was and is a very good man, and at the time that Ann was only state treasurer, but surely no democratic candidate other than Clinton had that ability to connect with an audience, and Ann had the added fillip of being not only charismatic, charming and strong, but unassailable.

Ann Richards was perhaps this countries greatest missed opportunity.

For god's sake Hillary, take some notes.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Am I the only one that finds the Audrey Hepburn Gap commercial to be cringe-inducing? "Funny Face" era Audrey morphed into dancing to AC/DC to sell the new "skinny pants". So wrong on so many different levels, I cannot even start to list them all.

Monday, September 11, 2006

In Rememberance

They were not beloved when they were built, indeed they were seen as dinosaurs: the last gasp of urban-planning gone bad. They were in a sterile plaza that demolished the street grid of Lower Manhattan, a plaza so windswept that navigating it was nigh unto impossible. As an object, the cool beauty of the twin towers was successful as art, as a building it was less successful.

But I came across this image and it reminded me of how lovely the towers were, and on the anniversary of the horror that consumed so many lives, I thought a short elegy to their beauty was apt.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Star tour of Beverly Hills

A friend of mine who just moved here's parents came to visit a few weeks ago, and I made up a tour for them of my neighborhood. I figured that this is a tour that they could do in a few hours at most, and still have time to cruise off to the Grove or Robertson. If anyone is interested (or looking), I'm posting it here.

We start at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Palm Drive (you need to be going west on SM blvd or west on Beverly Blvd, there is no turn up Palm from eastbound Santa Monica)

508 N Palm Drive (above Santa Monica): Marilyn Monroe/ Joe DiMaggio honeymoon house

512 N Palm Drive: Last home of 20's superstar Jean Harlow

at the next block, make a left onto Camelita, go two blocks and turn right at Elm Drive, go north

722 N Elm Drive (2 blocks west of Palm, between Elevado & Lomitas): House where Lyle and Eric Menendez killed their parents.

Turn around and make a right on Elevado, go west 7 blocks, take a right on Rodeo, north 1 block to Lomitas

732 N Rodeo (at Lomitas) house where 30's actress Lupe Velez killed herself. She was pregnant and the man who got her that way refused to marry her. She got dolled up in her finest, fixed herself a last meal and downed a handful of seconal. According to some Kenneth Anger's "Hollywood Babylon", she woke violently ill and lurched to the bathroom, slipping on the bathroom rug, she ended up drowning in the bowl of the toilet.

Make the left on Lomitas and go 2 blocks to Bedford Drive

730 N Bedford (at Lomitas, a white house on the SE corner): House where Lana Turner,s mob boyfriend was stabbed to death by her teen daughter. It's still open to question whether the daughter did it (as she wrote in her autobiography) or Lana did it herself

Go south on Bedford to 512: House of 20's sensation Clara Bow

Go right on Santa Monica to right on Walden, to the corner of Walden and Carmelita: The Witches house. Originally a film company office, the house was moved from Culver City to Beverly Hills in the 30's. It's new owner is doing a sensitive re-do of this storybook cottage.

Right on Carmelita, left on Linden to #810: This house, which was leased at the time to Mob moll Virginia Hill is the house where Bugsy Siegel was shot. Siegel built the Flamingo hotel in Las Vegas, basically starting the whole Las Vegas thing. (If you've seen the movie "Bugsy" with Warren Beatty, you get the idea)

Proceed north on Walden, it shortly becomes Whittier Drive. Go past Sunset at the light. You are now in the most expensive part of "the flats" of BH- these houses start at 10 million for a "fixer"

Make a right on Lexington, then a right on Roxbury

905: Oscar Levant

911: Elizabeth Montgomery (Bewitched)

918: Jimmy Stewart (site, house was demolished)

921: Rick Schroeder (Silver Spoons, NYPD Blue)

Turn around and go back north:

1000 Roxbury (at Lexington): Lucille Ball. The present owner remodelled (and ruined) the house and put up a six foot wall to keep tourists away. The city forced him to cut the wall back to 3 feet, per code. He complained that he had no idea who Lucille Ball was when he bought he place....

1002: Jack Benny

1004: Peter Falk

1015: Diane Keaton, who sold it Madonna (who has
since moved)

1019: Ira Gershwin, then Rosemary Clooney

1021: George Gershwin

1023: Agnes Moorehead (Endora from Bewitched)

1025: Polly Bergen

go back down to Lexington, go left through the light at Benedict Canyon along Lexington. At the NE corner of Lexington Rd and Crescent drive is the house once owned by Columbia studio chief Harry Cohn, later owned by Merv Griffin. Continue east on Lex, after Beverly Drive, turn right onto Rexford. At the light make a left onto Sunset Blvd. On the left side of Sunset at Alpine Drive is a huge pile of dirt with a tarp over it. This was the site of one of the most (in)famous mansions is Beverly Hills. The house that stood there was built in 1917 for one of the founder of Beverly Hills; in 1978 was bought by an arab sheik, who proceeded to paint the place puke green, and paint the statues facing Sunset in lifelike flesh tones, including male and female private parts (if you've seen the Steve Martin movie "The Jerk", they used the house as-is as the house Navin gets when he becomes rich). The house was gutted by a suspicious fire in 1982 and razed in 1985. Neighbors toasted it's destruction with champagne. There are two monster Mansions being built on the site as of this writing.

Continue east on Sunset to the light at Hillcrest Rd. Left onto Hillcrest, then left onto Doheny Rd. At Loma Vista drive is perhaps the most famous, and certainly the most filmed house in Beverly Hills. Built in 1928 by oil billionaire E. L. Doheny at the then unheard of cast of 9 million dollars, the house was a present to his son upon his marriage. Young Edward's time in the house was not long however, he was murdered by his private secretary in a fight over a raise, whereupon the secretary shot himself. It's rumored that the shooting may have been for darker reasons; it's rumored that Edward, Jr was having an affair with his (male) secretary, and killed him when the affair was going to be made public. The other rumor is that Dad himself shot the pair. In any case, the magificent house still stands, and is used for many movies and TV shows. You can't tour the house without special permission (and it's really creepy- the room where Doheny's body was still has a ghost of the tape outline in the wood floor), but the grounds are a lovely public park (entrance on Loma Vista drive, up the street). You can also rent "The Loved One", "Dead Ringer" (the one with Bette Davis) or Steve Martin's "All of Me" to get a look inside- all three were filmed inside ond on the grounds

From here you can continue west on Doheny Road to Foothill Rd to Sunset Blvd. Make a right and cintinue west on Sunset to Crescent Drive. On the right there is the Beverly Hills Hotel. The older Mediterranean looking part is one of the oldest buildings in the city, built to lure people west to what was then a very remote are to own a home (at that time, the fashionable areas were just north or west of downtown, and Sunset Blvd was a dirt road west of Fairfax), the newer part facing Sunset (with the hotels name in it's famous script) was added in the 40's by famous LA architect Paul Williams. The hotel was totally redone (and in my opinion, ruined) by the sultan of Brunei in the 90's. I would suggest skipping the Polo Lounge, which looks nothing like it did in it's heyday and heading downstairs to the coffee shop. Cooler heads kept the sultan's designers out, and they merely refurished, rather then redoing. It's a snapshot of 40's Hollywood glam.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

This Thursday, Columbina is graciously printing another one of my perfume reviews. This one is for Serge Lutens Tuebereuse Criminelle (gotta love that name) that also touches upon Robert Piguet's Fracas

Monday, August 21, 2006

Downtown Life, Part Deaux

Today I went out to get an oversized get-well card at lunch for a co-worker struck with appendicitis. This took me out of my little bubble in the "Historic Core" and put me in the Bunker Hill area. Bunker Hill originally was the first suburb of LA, filled with grand mansions (some of which have been moved to Heritage Square off the Pasadena Freeway) of the elite of Los Angeles, the owners of the buildings in the business area down the hill. By the thirties and forties, most of these places were either gone or chopped up into rooming houses (rent "Kiss Me Deadly" or "Dead Ringer" for a pretty good look at what it was like back in the day..) and in the sixties the city decided that the area was ripe for revitalisation. This meant a lot of very sterile new towers plonked in very sterile plazas, some of which were very nice examples of that they are, some of which were awful: completely turning away from the street, creating blocks and blocks that to this day are about as inviting as death valley. There are attractions, MoCA, The Disney Concert Hall, The Los Angeles Music Center, to name a few, as well as some restaurants that range from pretty good (Ciudad, Cicada) to IMHO massively overrated (anything Patina Group). The mall I went to was the one featured in "Earthquake", a depressing 70's affair, mostly underground. I got the card and a really indifferent Fettuccine Alfredo.

One of the big new things in downtown is the "adaptive reuse" of office buildings. It started in the area I work in, and has moved into the Bunker Hill/ Financial district. The Standard Hotel opened a branch of it's tragically hip chain in an old office building on Flower, practically right next to Pegasus Lofts, in the old Mobil Oil building. Personally, If I want to pay through the nose for a dinky apartment in a noisy, overcrowded area close to skid row, I'll move back to New York, but that's what 20 years in BH will do to you...

I have to admit, this is not my favorite part of the city, but it's certainly worth a look.....

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Downtown life

For about the past seven years, I have worked in downtown Los Angeles. This after more than a decade working no further east than West Hollywood (not counting Thong World- that doesn't get anywhere near my resume...). At first, I was a bit ambivalent about it, it was more of a commute than I liked, and it was the part of downtown that more resembles pre-Giuliani New York than the ultra-clean Bunker Hill area. In any case, over the years I have grown quite fond of my little part of downtown, and would like to share with the many hoards reading (sound of own voice echoing back) some of the highlights, most of which are right on the main drag of my area, the "historic core": Broadway.

You have seen it in TV shows and movies, but the Bradbury Building is truly one of the gems of greater LA. Designed by a layman (read the page), it has a singular and spectacular five story wrought iron and brick interior that is open for five stories, capped by a skylight. I was lucky enough to have an office in there for the better part of two years, and I was never less than thrilled to go to work in the place. I was truly sad when we were moved back to the boring 70's building in which we are now stationed.

Across Broadway is another must-see: Grand Central Market. Gracing downtown for 90 years (and still the only grocery store in the area), this place is a dream of incredibly cheap produce, take-out places that range from burgers to burritos to bento. If you live anywhere in a 15 mile radius and are having any sort of party, run, do not walk over there and stock up on veggies: I have personally catered parties spending no more that $50 at this place. Be sure to check out the small sundires store tucked away on the lower level, there are bargains galore- and the place validates! Right next door is the Million Dollar Theater, a gorgeous beax-arts building now sadly shutterred. Let's hope that it reopens, as some of the other theaters in downtown have. the LA Conservancy has a program called the "Last Ramaining Seats" which tours these theaters, sadly the Million Dollar is not one of them.

Also lining Broadway are multitudes of shops, selling everything from electronics to sock to perfumes- all at great prices. If you can get over a bit of New York style grunge (this is where Hollywood come to pretend it's New York), you can find great bargains on great stuff- not just cheap crap. Unlocked GSM RAZR phones I've seen for $150 and I recently purchased a bottle of Caron Yatagan for $25- a lot less than retail. Bring comfortable shoes (hell, buy them there..) and get ready to see more crowds than you've ever seen in LA before.

An absolute must see on the street is Clifton's Cafeteria, an LA institution for 75 years, there used to be several locations downtown. Now there is only one, on Broadway at 7th street. This is Clifton's Brookdale, a fever dream of a cavern in the redwood forest, complete with "a 20ft. waterfall cascading into a quiet stream that meanders through the dining room". It's little changed since the thirties, and is not exactly shall we say "dainty". But it's real and a real piece of LA history, and the food is quite good if you can get over the fact that it's a cafeteria and not California Pizza Kitchen.

While I realise that most people who come downtown are more likely to stay with the more accessible parts like Bunker Hill with it's Disney Concert Hall, MOCA and list of squeaky clean restaurants that you can find practically anywhere, I urge you to come down the hill to Broadway and discover the other LA. If you're lucky, Angels Flight will have re-opened and you won't even have to climb the stairs......

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I got this link from Billy Masters forums (and if you aren't visiting him, you should).

You tube is great- the ultimate recepticle for cultural detritus. Gotta love that: and that clip with Rock Hudson and Bea Arthur singing about drug addiction? Howls.....

Monday, July 31, 2006

She's baaaaaaaaaack

Yes, after a absence of a couple of months, my dear Cantakerous Bitch is back, blogging in her own inimitable style. I guess there's something to be said for global warming after all, if it gets our CB out of that damned fresh mountain air and back where she belongs, in front of an air conditioner and an iMac telling us what's up.

I for one am very pleased.....

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Colombina at Perfume-Smellin' Things has once again graciously allowed me to place a review on her homepage. I hope it's amusing, it was for me to write it. I will be sending in reveiws every Thursday, either until she gets sick of it, or I run out of nose.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

things I learned from "Catwoman"

I just netflixed this movie (and no, it's not nearly as bad as you've read, actually it's rather fun) and as someone that has lived with and loved them, I have to write, there are things that I just didn't know about cats

Things I learned from cats by living with them

Any source of heat is theirs. If it's the fireplace, they are two inches in front of it. If it's the radiator, they are on top of it. If it's the middle of the night and they are sleeping between your thighs and you want to turn over, get over it.

Any food you are eating is theirs; should you be so kind to be eating pan-seared Ahi or Sevruga served in a cloud of Creme Fraiche, fork it over. If you are serving Tofurkey, get ready for a really bitter look.

Whatever you are doing, drop it now, I want attention. I will step on your paper, type out 24t78ty5ghaiksjughrpieau out on your laptop, plop down on your lap while the Raiders are on the 2 yard line and look at you meltingly whilst purring. And if you know what's best for you, pay attention. I know where your laundry is. To me, it look like litter.

Things I learned from "Catwoman"

Cats can play basketball better than Shaq

Cats can cut and style (and dye) hair better than that annoying straight guy on "Blow Out"

Cats can ride motorcycles after doing hair and styling outfits, much like the other annoying straight guy on "Blow Out"

Cats know Judo, are great at accessorising, can Crump with the best of them, pitch like Sammy Sosa, and looooove product placement.

So the next time Darling Kitty comes meowling for the Tender Vittles, I think it's time that kitty does some chores. Like give me some kicky highlights and scare my neighbors yappy dog into permanent silence.....

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The lovely and informative Colombina at Perfume-Smellin' Things has opened out her blog to readers to post their reviews of scents they like. I am very pleased that she has chosen me as her first guest reviewer. I hope that all of you out there (hello? er, anybody there? sound of own voice echoing back to Pans) click through and read.

If you like perfume at all, she is a wonderful source for reviews- very descriptive, candid and witty. I hope to be fractionally as entertaining.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada, but Meryl kicks his ass

Having just seen "The Devil Wears Prada" I thought I would write an appreciation of the divine Ms. Streep. Of course, everybody knows that Meryl Streep is one of the best dramatic actresses of our (no, that's damning with faint praise, try any) generation. What two of you may not know is that she is also a brilliant comedienne. "The Devil Wears Prada" is the latest showcase of this fact: she walks away with the movie, even with Stanley Tucci and the lovely and game Anne Hathaway in the cast.

If you enjoy this movie, you may want to Netflix her other comedies. Her hilarious turn in "She-Devil", where she steals the movie right from under Roseanne Barr (who is excellent), or my hands-down favorite movie of the 90's, "Death Becomes Her", the gleefully nasty Zemeckis movie that pairs her with an equally game Goldie Hawn. Imagine "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" meets "Extreme Makeover", and you'll get an idea of what this balls-to-the-wall corker is like. As a matter of fact, I'm going to log off right now and pop this one in the ole iBook....

Sunday, June 18, 2006

It's my birthday and I'll whine if I want to....

Some friends invited me out last hight to an actual gay bar. That's right. A gay bar. In West Hollywood. On a Saturday night.

You may be asking yourself "but Pans... where would someone ask you to go on a Saturday night? The fights? A Lakers game? Spearmint Rhino Gentlemans Club?". Well, okay you're right (I will however shoot you a really withering look for asking...). It's not that it's soooo out of the ordinary, it's just that I haven't been to one in years. I spent the better part of the 80's and the 90's in them, closing out the bar and looking for my next after-party. I had my group of party-hearty friends, I had a Rage gold card and knew a lot of people who did a lot of partying. Then I just...... stopped. Why?

It was BORING.

That's right, boring. When it comes down to it, it gets boring. The people who do it are boring. When I did it, I was boring. I was bored with being boring, being nice to bores in the hope that they'd invite me to the "cool" after-party.

There was also the drugs. Crystal was coming in big time. I'm no angel, but I like to sleep, and anything that is going to keep me from doing so is not high on my list of things to do. Staying up for three days straight is not my idea of the perfect vacation. (That would be Vin Diesel feeding me Tuescher on Anachini sheets and telling me how gorgeous I am before rocking me to sleep in our heavily air conditioned suite. And a bottle of Musc Kublai Khan. Just in case you're thinking of a birthday present) My friends were getting heavily into it. I tried it once and hated it. My friends and I drifted apart. I ended up seeing one of them years later as he was leaving a bar at 5pm or so. I was on my way home from work: he crossed in front of my car. He'd lost about thirty pounds that he could ill afford. My sun visor was down and I was wearing glasses (and let's be honest, about 25 extra pounds) and I didn't call out to him, although the top was down on my car. I felt horrible- this was someone that I used to really love. But the last encounter I had with him was really frightening- it was near another birthday, and he'd clearly been up for days. He wished me a happy birthday and proceeded to tell that the nuclear holocaust was coming, and when it did, not to let the men take me down into the caverns, because they would fit my arms and legs with machines and force me to work 24/7, etc. His appearance didn't lead me to believe that he was clean and sober (that and walking out of the Spike at 5.30 pm).

Now you might be asking yourself "when is Pans going to get to the point?" Whippersnapper....

The point is that my friends took me to this gay bar and I could not wait to leave. It was too noisy, too crowded, the music was meh, the crowd was either "I'm too sexy for my shirt" or to screechy. The drinks were overpriced, I had to yell to be heard and, well, there was the matter of that 25 lbs. I was so relieced when they wanted to leave.

The nicest thing was that my friends could not believe that I was actually the age that I am.

I suppose I'll give it another shot. Just get me back to power yoga for a month first. That's Pansy, chronological age $5, mental age 16.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A car-related rant

This morning on my way to work I saw and yet another car festooned with American flags. Nothing wrong with that, you say? Well of course not. But why is it that I only ever see this on foreign cars? Driven by people who are old enough to remember (or even lived during the time) when we were at war with the country in which their Lexus or Mercedes was built? Apparently irony is not something recognised by these people; if I still had my Chrysler I'd have one printed up reading "If you're such a patriot, why aren't you driving a Buick?"

I am also sick of Prius' running all over with holier-than-thou "I'm saving the planet and you're not"-type stickers on them. Hey Prius driver, if you were really that concerned about the environment, you'd be on the bus. Or a bike. If you really want truth-in-bumper-stickers, yours would read "I'm raping the environment incrementally less than you"

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

well, the gall of them...

As you can augur from the link at the right, I waste some of my time posting reviews on Amazon. What I didn't realise is that they will sometimes delete a review. I had previously reviewed "Showgirls" (I know, so I like crappy movies, k?), and today when I looked at my review page it was gone. Not that I think that my deathless prose should last forever in cyberspace- oh who am I kidding, of course it should! In any case, I do actually own a copy of this total howler on DVD (they were practically slipping them into people's bags at Blockbuster), and feeling in the mood for some trash last night, I put it in the machine.

Time is a funny thing. Not that millenia could make this good movie, nothing could do that. But it was not nearly as terrible as I remember it. Sure, what I had written years ago is still true about the main character (played by Elizabeth Berkley): why anyone, even in Vegas would put up with the howling, badly-permed, over painted shrew for three seconds defies belief. But there's just something so sweet about Ms. Berkley that you can't help but like her. Her, not her performance or this movie.


Okay, for those who haven't seen it, it's basically parts of "A Star is Born", that is if Esther Blodgett was a stripper with a heart of gold and the morals of a vulture and Norman Maine was a really predatory drag queen. Nomi Malone (Berkley) comes to Vegas to become a dancer. She loses her suitcase to a greasy trickster who leaves her stranded. At this point, and for no reason, she meets her new best friend, a seamstress who has the car that Nomi takes her agressions out on over her loss. Despite the fact that Nomi tosses her cookies in front of, dashes into traffic, and tosses the french-fries New Best friend buys her in her face, Molly (NBF) asks her to move in. If only I knew that that was the way to impress potential room-mates.

Loads of other things happen on Nomi's way to the top (or bottom) in Vegas. She runs afoul of Cristal Connors, a diva "dancer" and headliner of the Vegas show "Goddess". Gina Gershon plays her exactly as a drag queen would, alternating second to second between smirking evil and quaking lust. It's a hoot of a performance, and when she's sidelined in the movie, you'll miss her.

What you won't miss is all of the sex. There's sex in a strip club, sex in a pool, sex, sex, sex. None of which is the least bit erotic. Or for that matter, physically possible. The scene in the pool is unintentionally hilarious: Nomi is bucking and thrashing like someone left a mechanical bull in the water and not only is she riding it, she's being electrocuted by it. She is also so far away from Kyle McClachlan (with whom she's supposedly having sex) that you can only imagine that he is either super-humanly endowed or she just is having some sort of fit. Not to be outdone, Cristal Connors has a few nude scenes of her own, and tries, tries, tries to get Berkley into bed. Both woman are wearing enough make-up to stock a decent sized Nordstrom's for at least a year, so when they finally do get into a bit of kissy-face, all you can think of is that they might just slide off one another and injure themselves.

In any really bad movie, there is usually one scene that's really a corker. In Strait-Jacket it's the one where 50-something Joan Crawford downs an iced-tea glass full of bourbon and leers at her daughter's 20-something Fiance (It plays like a scene from "Cruising"). In this one it's where Nomi takes revenge on the slimy Michael Bolton clone who rapes Molly (A really icky, scene). To music usually reserved for Rambo movies, Nomi get's ready to kick the snot of Slimy by..... doing her nails. Yep, whe paints designs on her teenage-mutant-ninja-press-ons, shimmies into the tightest and shortest gold dress in the history of cinema and then turns all Jackie Chan. All of this is of course, goes against the cardinal rule of Vegas: don't mess with a somebody in the name of a nobody. Realising this, Nomi abandons her role as the new "Goddess", and decamps for the only place left to sleaze into: Hollywood. While wearing, if possible even more makeup. Needless to say, in a movie like this, the person who picks her up is the same guy who ripped off her suitcase in the first place. I don't know who I'd be more scared for, him or the city of the Angels

It's almost as if this movie were made by some really machiavellian ministers or something. So much sex going on, not a bit of it's actually sexy.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

for the three of you who read this

in honor of Mother's Day, I am reprinting something I posted at Columbina's Blog , which is involved in a fundraising campaign. Please go and leave your comments on that site.

My parents sadly died before I ever got the chance to know them as actual people, rather than just "parents": perhaps that is why I remember those scents so much; Mom's Joy as she leaned in to kiss me goodnight before going out to a dinner party; her blue-black hair, white skin and light green eyes (I got the latter two, as well as a disturbing resemblance to Joan Crawford), or Dad's Kolnisch Juchten and pipe (tobacco). I can still remember watching Some idiotic scary movie with him as a kid and hiding in his blazer, and the smell of that cologne with Dunhill London Mixture and Harris tweed. I still have one of those coats, and at 6'2", I don't fill it out.

Mind you, I'm not bitter, or even terribly sad about it. It's just the way things have worked out. But for anyone who may be reading this and have parents who are still around, I hope that this weekend (and Dad's weekend in June) that you will take a moment to inwardly thank whomever that you have a parent to love, live with, or even be annoyed by.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Tales of the Suburbs

Last week I saw that my old apartment building had been torn down. I felt a decided twinge about this- not that the place was the most beautiful in the world, but it had it's charm: it was a 1920's building that was clearly put up for workers back in the day. There were only single apartments (no bedroom, but with a kitchen) or "bachelor" apartments (no kitchens, neither). It was clean, and completely unchanged from it's 1920's splendor. This meant that we had the original 1920's iceboxes in the kitchen, complete with doors to the corridor which, if it weren't for the fact that they had been nailed shut, were still waiting for the ice man to deliver. There was also a Murphy bed. The quaintness was palpable. Unfortunately, this also meant perfectly preserved quaint 1920's wiring. I guess people in the 20's had about three electrical appliances. I had a couple more. This was a minor problem.

I lived in this place for about five years. These years were turbulent ones for California, the first month or so that I moved in, there was the Loma Prieta quake in San Francisco. Within a few months, I felt my first quake in LA. It happened late one night when I was taking a bath late after coming home from the clubs. It lasted eerily long: long enough for me to decide to get out of the bath and stand in the doorway of the bathroom, only to watch the now tidal movement of my Floris-scented tub. This was the place that I sat out the riots (and really, when the verdict was read, I felt like rioting as well). Well, one night I was at a friends apartment in Beachwood canyon having the singular experience of watching (from the roof) the SkyCam9 coverage of the looting and fires on Hollywood Boulevard while being close enough to smell the smoke. The next night I was at my little single on Oakhurst Drive with two friends, rented movies and delivery pizza. Los Angeles may have been on lockdown, but in Beverly Hills, Pizza Man delivered. God knows how, but he did.

This was the place that I rode out the fires of Malibu that were so intense, ashes were falling on the westside like light snow. This was the apartment that when I heard a woman screaming in the alley I called the police, who responded by the time I had hung up the phone and gotten to the back window (that's why I live in BH, and not LA). This was the place that I lived through the "big one" of 1994. Bt that time, I was with with my boyfriend; I had a cold and was feverish. I took my cold medicine and started to watch "Earthquake". BF asked me, with some aspertion, if I was sick, why didn't I just go to bed? I answered that I liked the part where LA falls apart. Did I get a wake up call at 4am? Honestly, I thought it was daybreak and Bernardo was shaking the bed to get me up. The daybreak was the electicity arcing from the power poles in the alley, and of course the shaking was the earthquake. Luckily for us, there was only minor damage in our neighborhood, some collapsed chimneys.

About a year after this, we decided that we needed more space. We moved a couple blocks away to a larger one-bedroom in which I still live. Bernardo and I broke up, and the old place and the building next door have been ripped down, most likely for some condo development. Which will no doubt be the fate of my present place in some years: Los Angeles is as relentless about remaking itself as some of it's denizens. Whole neighborhoods nip and tuck like contestants on "The Swan".

That's the nature of LA.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Some of you know that I like scents. Not so much that you can't take an elevator with me (calm down now!): as a matter of fact, I have independant confirmation from co-workers, who could otherwise sue that you have to seriously get up into my personal space to smell whatever I am wearing. There is a great blog out there which covers fragrances that I wish to pass on, although I fear that the three of you that peruse my petty rambings will not add to her traffic. (pathetic bid for positive comments: what do I have to do for you people? Bleed? Boohoohoo!}

Perfume-Smellin' Things

It's a great blog: she has a wonderful grasp of scents, and the rare ability to break them down for the lay-person (like me) in a way that makes them make sense. Please drop by- unless like me you are a junky: she is a perfume Circe: you'll find yourself hitting eBay after her every review...

Monday, January 23, 2006

This past week, I had the utter joy of Jury Duty. After years of ducking it, or being dinged from service before having even to show up (and this before I was even writing this blog, so how did they know?), I finally got caught.

I got the notice in December, and duly, if dully registered. I was not looking forward to it. Several friends and co-workers had served, all of them at the courthouse three blocks from my palaitial hovel in the industrial triangle area of Beverly Hills. They had a great time- get in at, oh say ten, lunch from 11:30 to about 2, shopping and out of there by 4:30. So when I received the notice at first I was pretty okay with it. I could see myself spending two weeks getting up at nine or so, maundering over to Koo Koo Roo, for lunch, hanging out at the library, and being home in ten minutes. All with the joy of having sat in judgement of some poor sap, and for once having that judgement being served with the full force of the great state of California. Instead of just in my head.

But then I opened the envelope. They were sending me to traffic court. At 22nd and Hill. Ew.

So I followed the instructions on the hand-out and called every day the night before to see if I had to truck down there. Sunday night: don't have to report Tuesday (Monday was MLK day). Tuesday night: don't have to report. I was feeling perky- I may get out of this clean! Wednesday night: please report to the courthouse at 8:30 AM. D'oh!

So I wnet into work early and got some things done, changed my outgoing message, turned on the "out of office assistant" and duly reported. To a big room on the top floor of a dingy '40's fascist-deco building off Washington Blvd in a part of LA that I call the middle of nowhere. I was there with about 50 or 60 people. The ladies running the show were giving a very polite speech that basically spelled it out for you: you can run, but you can't hide. You can get a postponement of your jury duty, but you ain't getting out of it. Short of a sudden fatal stroke that is. Even then, you will be required to appear personally to explain to the judge that you were dead, and you'd better have a copy of your death certificate with you.

There was a large group that took the opportunity to postpone. I didn't see any reason to myself, it wasn't going to be any less inconvenient in three months, and I was already here. There was very obese woman who was moaning on and on to the poor, very disinterested woman from the courts that this "just wasn't the right time for her" to do jury duty, but made sure to tell her that during other, more stress-free times she would "love to serve on a jury". Before finally deciding to postpone, she botton-holed several people in the crowd to tell her story. I buried my face in my murder mystery and tried to look as if I only spoke Latvian whenever she lumbered in my direction.

Some of the creativity of the people trying to convince the poor woman that they should be excused was pretty remarkable. People suddenly lost all knowledge of English, were struck with illnesses ranging from diabetic coma to Dutch elm disease; whatever could be thought of in the fond hope that the woman would smile upon them and pronounce them freed from jury duty...forever! Vain, however was the hope, these ladies had heard it all before. To the sudden loss of English people whe would ask if they were citizens, and if they were naturalised, if they took the test in English. To the suddenly paralised, she asked if they had driven to the court. She'd heard it all, and had an answer for everybody. People either stayed, or they slunk off and took their postponement.

So there I waited. There was a TV on, tuned to the local ABC station. I've always thought that daytime television was some sort of evil cabal by big business to force you to going back into the workforce by showing the the crappiest drek in the world during the day. I read my book, only glancing up once in a while. I particulary noted some of the bad acting on some of the soaps, I briefly thought that I should have pursued acting with more vigor than I did- surely nobody could be worse than some of the people on "All My Children".....

I'm always amazed at the way that people act in public. People in this group picked their noses, had loud and frighteningly intimate cell phone conversations (note to new cell phone users: It's a radio device, you don't need to make up for distance with lung power. And I don't want to hear about your last STD test. Really), and genereally acted as if they were in their own little bubble, unobserved by 40 other people. One woman decided to kick off her shoes and put her feet up. Oy.

I finished my cheap murder mystery. Luckily I had another one. My own version of an earthquake preparedness kit- I may not have water of food, but I always have books and cologne. I may dehydrate and starve, but I'll always be amused and smelling nice.

3:30 pm: they are calling out names. I miss the cut! Whoo hoo! They said we'd be out of here by 4: 30; life is looking good!

4:00 pm: nothing happening, I am feeling very smug.

4:10 PM: they call the rest of us. Sh*&@%*$&)@%$!!!!

4:20 PM: they load us into the courtroom. They are basically marking the territory; if they didn't set our butts into a courtroom and swear us in, they'd have to let us go. The judge gives us a 10 minute speech about the importance of jury duty, blah blah blah, and tells us to show up at 11 am the next morning.

The next morning, I stop into work and do some more work, then go to the courthouse. I tell myself that it won't be that bad, even if the trial lasts more than 5 days (the limit that work will pay for, and they say that they very rarely do last longer in traffic court) I have 20 or so unused vacation days, and sick time. How bad could it be?

We get in to hear the judge start another bit about thanking us for our civic-mindedness, blah blah blah. He then says that he will reward us for this by telling us that our case was settled before we came in, and we are free to go.

I briefly consider going back to work. This is a very brief consideration. I go to Malibu for lunch. It's a beautiful day.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Celebrity Sightings

The other day my boss decided to take the lunch hour and run off to Larchmont Beauty supply on an errand. Never one to miss a chance to check out that store, I tagged along. My boss got her hair stuff, and I got a green tea iced blended.

On our way back to her car, she spotted a minor celeb from "House" I believe having lunch and loudly babbling into his cell phone. I didn't see him, but it made me remember some of the celeb sightings I've had here in the years I've lived in LA.

Some of the most memorable:

Faye Dunaway having coffee at a restaurant in West Hollywood. Contrary to reports, she was very gracious to her server (me- this was when I first moved here), and very low-key. She also looked to be about 35, tops.

Following a scary-skinny girl up Robertson when meeting a friend at the Newsroom. This woman looked like CGI she was so thin. Sinew and bone wrapped in Juicy Couture. As I turned to enter the restaurant, she looked over at me and gave me the most winning smile. Lara Flynn Boyle. She had the most lovely skin, but darlin', eat something.

And perhaps the best star sighting ever...

I was meeting my friend at (the now sadly defunct) Tail O' the Pup for a hot dog in West Hollywood. There was an enormous black Mercedes landaulet from the '50's out in front, and happily, delicately munching one of Tail O's finest was...

Ella Fitzgerald.

That's why I love LA

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Los Angeles Times has an article today about how people these days are not going to the movies as much as they used to. They ask patrons at various cinemas around town why this is happening. I think they might have made more of a point of asking people who are leaving Blockbuster, but what do I know? I would think people who are going to the movies, well, go to movies.

In any case they ask "Could it be the prices, the parking, the patrons?".

Ya think?

Here's the reason I don't go to the movies much anymore: the last movie I saw out was the last Star Wars flick. Not only did the tickets cost a whopping $13.50 at the Grove, but you also had to pay two bucks to park. All to sit through about six years of commercials in a crowded theater full of screaming shildren on cell phones (and perhaps, crack) eventually to see a movie so devoid of humor, sweep, interest or anything redeeming at all as to make me think that not only should I get my money back, Hayden Christensen should refunded personally. Naked. Riding a pogo stick. Just for wasting my time.

This is, perhaps why I am rarely asked my opinion for publication.