Friday, December 19, 2008

Memo to Guy Fieri:

It's days before 2009.

"Swingers" was released on October 18th, 1996.  By October 19th that year it was no longer cool to refer to something as being "money" unless there was a denomination and a picture of a dead President on it.  This was also about the time that the short, bleached spiky 'do had been abandoned by straight guys (the gays had passed it on about four years earlier, along with the board shorts and combat boots look).  Twelve years, Guy.  Time to move on.

Guy, you're 40.  I realise that you don't want to go gentle into that good night, but must you rage against the dying of the light in that outfit?

Just a thought.

Photo credit:  Wikipedia

Monday, December 15, 2008

On a Clear Day, You Can See Century City..

And Palos Verdes, and Catalina. Of course, If I wasn't shooting the picture with my kind of crappy iPhone camera, it might look half as spectacular as the view from Lago Vista Drive was this past Sunday after the rainstorm.

We're having big time rains this week, and the snow level is dropping. This is the week that all of the professional photogs head out for those pictures of downtown with the snowcapped mountains in the background. Ones like this one.

Picture credit: my iPhone

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I like Cats better than Dogs.

There, I said it.

Despite the fact that I have become in my early hundreds allergic to cats, to the point that without an Aqua-net sized Albuterol inhaler I will whorf like a Kirby with an over-full bag, I love them.  I love that when you get affectionate with them they look at you with pity because you're too clingy.  I even love that they decide that they have to express their undying affection for you the exact moment that you haven't saved the 36 hours of work on an incredibly complicated spreadsheet or career-making PowerPoint by jumping onto the keyboard, pressing CTRL/ESC/Enter, preening and giving you a melting look that says "yes, I have destroyed your career, but at the moment I adore you, and if you don't want me to treat your Prada as my litterbox you will pet me.

Of course Dogs do this, and they get off Scott(ie)-free.  At the risk of provoking Dog lovers,  you will put up with Fido actually chowing down on your Prada, peeing (or worse) on the rug and yet still waking you up at ungodly hours for a walk.

That, and the fact that they bark.  Every minute you aren't home.  Trust me on this.

Image of Giselle from The Non Blonde

Thursday, December 04, 2008

There's a new Wii commercial

With a woman in a spectacular house with a crazy view and a fireplace playing Wii with a friend.  Because why bother to actually interact with a human?  Or enjoy your view?  Or enjoy a fire in your million dollar house?  No.  Wave a plastic stick.

So much better than actually interacting with actual carbon-based life forms..

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Down came the rains and washed the fires out..

What a difference a few days make.

Luckily it didn't wash the hills down..

Photo: my iPhone

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Whither GM?

The American carmakers are appearing before the Senate Banking Committee asking for a bridge loan. The GOP seems not to want to give it, citing the Auto Industry's refusal to make fuel-efficient cars.

Of course. longtime politicians have a grip on the lives of the average constituent that's tenuous at best: they argue against subsidised health care for Americans while enjoying free health care for themselves. They pontificate on what the American Auto industry could have or should have done while being chauferred around Washington in a Limo, sirens blaring because Senator Thingummy needs a Venti Latte, STAT. So they villify the US Automakers for making big fat trucks that nobody wants, like Ford's F150 pickup, the best selling vehicle in the US for 26 of the past 30 years (and as of May still firmly in the top 5), ignoring the fact that Toyota spent a bazillion bucks to open a new plant in Texas to build their own bloated, gas swilling Tundra. A plant that they closed for a few months due to the "unseen economic issues" But Toyota is the green company right? They aren't out there asking for money either.

Well, one could argue that they have been in a different position: their government is severely protective of it's industry, keeping the Yen low, keeping foreign competition out while States such as Texas, Alabama and Tennessee are willing to give major deals to foreign carmakers to build plants in their states. There's of course nothing wrong with that, but it does make one want to ask how disingenuous it is for Senator Shelby of Alabama to act all self righteous about the US Auto industry when his state rolled out the red carpet for Mercedes Honda and Toyota and just recently Hyundai. Meanwhile the Big Three are languishing under the burden of legacy costs like pensions, healthcare pacts and Union contracts that the other boys don't have to pay for.

People are often decrying the US car companies as being behind the times and having shitty products. I was discussing this with a co-worker who had an 80's Chevy that was terrible. I had to point out that this was 20 years ago when all cars were terrible and yes, American cars were in particular. But all of the quality reports these days say that the Americans are on the top ten with the Japanese while Mercedes languishes near the bottom of the quality list. including it's Alabama built M-Class, named "worst reliable midsized SUV" in 2007.

People say that American cars aren't economical, but two minutes on the EPA website will show you that Chevy's Aveo and Cobalt get 34 and 36 MPG highway, an Impala 29, a Malibu 32 (to it's direct competitor Camry's 31). Heck, a Corvette will get you 26 on the Highway. That's right, a Corvette. Ford? How about a 35MPG highway Focus? A 28 Highway Taurus? How about a 30 highway Chrsyler Sebring? Or a 29 highway Dodge Caliber?

People say that the Americans don't do hybrids like the Prius. Well, the don't yet, but they have hybrids Malibus, Vues, Escapes, Auras, Yukons and even Escalades. And 2 years from now we'll have the Chevy Volt, the real-life every day useable modern car to crack the 100 mpg mark and move past hybrid into a real-life electric car. If I drove a Volt the only time I would use gas would be on a trip I woudl have to remind myself to take to use up the gas before it went bad.

Did the US Auto industry suffer from a lot of bad decisions and bad cars? Yes it did. Did they have a big part in putting themselves in this dillemma? You betcha. But the insurmountable fact is that many jobs, directly and indirectly come from the American auto industry. Turn on your TV or pick up a paper and look at how many ads are for car dealers and imagine them gone. Drive down your local auto-plex and imagine the showrooms empty. Look at the magazine rack and imagine it half empty. These companies have a big economic reach and unless you live on the moon that reaches extends right into your wallet. I might also humbly point out that 50 years ago it was the manufacturing might of these companies that won us a World War.

To the people who think that Toyota and Honda will take up the slack I'd like to ask, when and how? They'll rehire all the workers, take over all the plants and begin immediately producing Camrys to the adoring masses freed from the banality that was Buick? I don't think so. In the time it would take for these bridge loans to be paid back, this country would swing into an economic crises that our grandparents would remember from the thirties. I am too old to wait on a breadline. Are you?

Image: Cadillac Ranch Webpage

Monday, November 17, 2008 feeling!

This past weekend it seems like the whole of Los Angeles smelled like smoke. The fires that range from Sylmar to the north to Diamond Bar to the southeast have made the air quality just this shy of unbreathable. The Pasadena Marathon was cancelled over fears of the health of the runners, and even walking a few blocks has me wheezing like an old man. Oh, all right, an older man. All of this pales of course to the problems of the people who actually lost their homes; there's nothing scarier about life in SoCal than a wind-whipped fire. Not even an earthquake comes close for me, and I don't live in a fire zone.

To give you an idea of the air quality, here are two pictures: the one on the left was taken from the overlook on Mulholland Drive near Cahuenga this Sunday, Nov 16th. That's the 101 freeway and the barely visible buildings are in Hollywood. The one on the right was taken from the terrace of my friends house in Beachwood Canyon of that same view in November about 5 years ago on a smoggy day. The towers in the background are in Downtown LA. You would normally be able to see the towers in the background in the picture on the right. There's something a bit surreal about smelling smoke and breathing the chunk-style air and just sort of going on with your life. If I had musical talent in addition to a working sense of irony I would have played the violin..

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Real Estate Porn, Architecture Envy and Me

Sometimes, Pansy ain't pretty

Today I went on an adventure with my dear friend Sue, the LA NOIR-chitecture tour.  It visited various Noir-connected sites, such as the Formosa Cafe, the Parva-Sed-Apta Apartments (Where Nathaniel West lived when he wrote "The Day of the Locust") and this little dump: the Villa Primavera.  When I write "dump" it's in the fond hope that no-one will want to live there and I can score an apartment here.  Not only is it life-threateningly cute, but it's under West Hollywood's excellent rent control.

Villa Primavera is a product of the husband and wife team of Arthur and Nina Zwebel, one of the handful of apartments in the fantasy Andalusian style that feature interior courtyards with fountains and outdoor fireplaces built by them in the 20's.  It's a rare treat to get to see one of these places in the flesh (you can see this one in the movie "In a Lonely Place", which was written and later filmed here).  All of the units open to the courtyard, and despite being on busy Fountain Avenue, the place is very quiet; the effect is incredibly peaceful.  One of the tenants even left their front door casually open, showing their original barrel-shaped fireplace and nubby hand-trowelled old plaster walls as if to say "Nyah, nyah, nyah!  I live here and you don't"  At least that's how it seemed to me, knowing that I would be heading home to a place that while it's firmly in 90210 and therefore trumps on zip code, is notably lacking in charm.  These are the sort of apartments that "Buffy The Vampire Slayer", "Mulholland Dr" and "Chinatown" have made seem the quintessence of California style and which I would be very happy to call home.

Something like this..

Photo: my iPhone

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Boys (and Girls) are on the march...

Marching in protest against Prop 8.  

Can't say I blame them...

Unless you want some serious vehicular headaches, avoid Santa Monica Boulevard from Westwood to West Hollywood..

Screenshot of KCAL9's news coverage

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yes, I am kvelling...

But I cannot help but be uplifted by his speech, which reminded us that we can aspire to be more, to think that we can work together to create a better future for our children.  To look back at our past and to move forward to our shared future..

I am going to bed with the promise of a better America.  I hope not to awaken to a lesser California..

I'm watching CSNBC and listening to Chris Matthews babble and I have to write:  I love when people who make a million a year pretend to be able to tell what people who make 35 thousand a year live like.....

And it's over

I am very happy that we have elected our new President, and I have to give a special shout-out to John McCain who gave a gracious and classy speech. He's a worthy candidate and I would have voted for him if he was the McCain of 2000. I think we saw that McCain again, the Maverick, the Man who reaches across the aisle, the man who wasn't afraid to shush even his supporters. I'm saddened that people there would boo at the mention of Obama or the idea that we all could actually work together; I hope we can.

Photo: Los Angeles Times

Lines are long...

This was the line at the Beverly Hills Library at 7am when the polls opened. I waited about 30 minutes to vote. My coworker waited two hours in Pasadena- and she got there at 7am as well! It's going to be an interesting night!

Photo: my iPhone

Monday, November 03, 2008

Tomorrow is Election Day:


Sunday, November 02, 2008


I'm watching a TLC special on "Purity Balls" and I am ambivalent.  I think that it's a wonderful thing that children are taught that sexuality is a gift and that empty, meaningless coupling is, well empty and meaningless.  I wonder why this seems to be so female-focused however.  Now granted, I am a mean old man willing to see worms under rocks that aren't there, but the whole Jon Benet-ness of giving a twelve year old a burgundy strapless gown to celebrate her purity seems a bit odd.  But aren't there guys in on this?

I mean, I think that discretion, a sense of self worth and good taste are a wonderful thing.  I'd like to think that I not only have it but had inculcated it into the few people whom I'd influenced.

I just can't think that the few people I'd influenced would believe that I would tell them to test drive cars before buying ones but to commit to a husband without knowing him.  I don't think at 20 you can know him...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Poltergeist is on..

It is of course a classic.

And it's one of the short list of movies in which Beatrice Straight was in.  Of course, she won the Oscar for Network, which was richly deserved.

Why am I bringing this up?  Because Ms. Straight was a regular customer at Rizzoli when I was the buyer there.  I witnessed her descent into Alzheimer's, and as sad and horrific as that disease can be I can only hope that if it's my fate that I can go the way she did.  I don't know how she was in private, but in her visits to the store she was filled with love.  Things were wonderful, the store was beautiful, I was so handsome with my bright blue eyes.

Never mind that they're green.  I wear lots of blue and they change depending upon my shirt.

I'd look at this ginger-haired lady in excellent care, with her hot blue eyes drawing me in and wonder is where she is better?  Certainly if I have to go to Alzheimer's I would like to go to the pleasant place she did.

Somehow I think I'd be more Violet Venable.  Since I was never able to put off Sebastian in my yoof...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tagged again!

Now I've been tagged by Caitlin from Legerdenez!

So I'll add six more random facts:

I HATE to dust.  I'll do the dishes, the laundry and I'll scrub the sink.  But dusting I hate.

I prefer to walk rather than drive, within reason.  Like two miles.  

I like chocolate, but I prefer cheese.

I collect old phones.  I have four or five.  In a one-bedroom apartment.  I think the collection is complete.

I love cars and can pretty much name the make, year and model of anything practically made (certainly in America) from about 1950 on.

I'm a very light sleeper.

I'm not going to tag six more people, though..

Image: one of my phones, courtesy one of my other phones

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


My friend Divina at Fragrance Bouquet tagged me! Argh!

Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you (Divina!)

2. Post the rules on your blog

3. Write six random things about yourself

4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them

5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog

6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Five (er, edited to SIX) Random things about Tom:

I hate carrots. Especially cooked. I will eat almost anything else. Capers, anchovies, liver, whatever. Just not carrots.

I love architecture. In my dreams I win PowerBall and drive all over looking at buildings. I also own Case Study House #22.

The car I presently own is the first that isn't a convertible. It is to be hoped that it will be the last one that is not one. I love convertibles even if I am so fair-skinned that I only put the top down in the late afternoon and slathered with sunblock like spackle.

I love to cook. I am quite good at it. Zachary Quinto, if you're reading, I can prove it.

I tend to buy too much underwear. When I am at the outlet mall I cannot pass up J Crews deal for 5 pairs of boxers for $20. i will never get in a car accident with nasty manties.

*edit* I realise that it should be 6 things. which leads to number 6:

I have sometimes the attention span of a fruit fly.

The six people I tag (sorry kids!): Marina. Gaia, Patty, March and Lee (Yes, they count as three, so there) and Wendy.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Speaking of food...

"Two Fat Ladies" is out on DVD (available at Amazon and your local retailers).  For those of you who never caught them when they were shown on the Food Network, The ladies were Jennifer Paterson (right) and Clarissa Dickson Wright, who maundered about the English countryside on a vintage motorcycle with a sidecar visiting wonderful locations and making food that would cause Ellie Krieger's head to explode.  Everything was game or meat cooked gleefully cooked with loads of lard, butter and salt.  You might be thinking "But Pansy, this is Paula Deen with an accent and a twin" but you would be wrong.  The Fat Ladies used fats long and lushly, but would never have been caught dead using whipped toppings or Cheez-whiz.  For them everything was scrupulously farm-fresh and free-range, a decade before that became every supermarkets bastardized codeword for "slightly more expensive".

Part travelogue, part comedy-duo and part lessons in historical English cuisine, this is a cooking show that takes for granted that you might just know how much wine to poach a fish in without being told precise measurements.  One that doesn't tell you alternatives if you are leery of eating any of the ingredients and one that thank goodness doesn't amp up the cuteness or down-hominess to 11.

Sadly, in 1998 Paterson was diagnosed with cancer and subsequently died, so there can be no more of this fun, informative, quirky and entirely British series, and that's a pity.  Luckily they're on DVD for us to savor.  Boy do I want some Bubble and Squeak!


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Santa Barbara and food..

Today I woke up and decided that I wanted to go to Santa Barbara, 90 miles up the coast.  Ostensibly this was because it was the last day of a show at the SB museum.  It was also because it was a beautiful day and a beautiful drive and because I had a hankering for guacamole.

Taqueria Super Rico in Santa Barbara is most likely looked down on by the locals as some tourist trap but I love it.  So did Julia Child so I don't think I have to apologise..

Santa Barbara is an almost ridiculously picturesque town, all Spanish tiles and missions and hills spilling into impossibly blue waters.  There are beautiful beaches, painfully cute neighborhoods full of cunning shops and the sort of laid-back, no pushing atmosphere that I wish didn't put my teeth on edge.  I wish I was the sort of person who could happily follow someone who is weaving back and forth doing 22 mph on the street by the beach looking for parking with equanimity.  I wish I could smile serenely and row between second and third, not gritting my molars to dust and muttering "get the bloody f*&k out of my way you complete idiot before I am forced to kill you!"

I can't.  Even with a gullet full of truly excellent guac.  I'm too type-A.  I am too New York.  Even after looking at a room full of Picasso drawings on a sunny day, maundering down Cabrillo Boulevard.  I suppose there's something to be said for knowing oneself, even if it means knowing you're an asshole...

Photo: my iPhone

Friday, October 03, 2008

Vanity Fair Covers 1913-2008 coming to LACMA

October 26th - March 2009

If you're in Los Angeles, this is the show to see...

Vanity Fair Portraits: Photographs 1913–2008 is the first major exhibition to bring together the magazine's historic archive of rare vintage prints with its contemporary photographs. The exhibition explores the ways in which photography and celebrity have interacted and changed, with portraits from the magazine's early period (1913–1936) displayed in conjunction with works from the contemporary Vanity Fair (1983–present). The Los Angeles presentation, which is sponsored by Burberry, will be the only U.S. stop on the exhibition's international tour. Photographers to be represented include Cecil Beaton, Harry Benson, Julian Broad, Imogen Cunningham, Annie Leibovitz, Man Ray, Mary Ellen Mark, Steven Meisel, Helmut Newton, Herb Ritts, Edward Steichen, Mario Testino, and Bruce Weber.
Photo and text: LACMA

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Pansy gets an iPhone..

Well, my contract with Verizon wireless ended as of yesterday and heedless of the fact that I can't justify the purchase at all I now have a white iPhone. I consider (iConsider?) it my bid to help the economy. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Adding on..

This device is rather marvelous in many ways.  Being an Apple product it's pretty seamless in the way it works, especially if you use a Mac for day-to-day stuff.  My music is on iTunes, my (few) photos are on iPhoto and I keep my contacts and mail on .mac, which is now MobilMe.  Well, I mostly have used Yahoo for my mail since it's attached to AT&T and I've had it since the mid nineties, but .Mac I've also had since it's inception so that's what's hooked up to the phone.  This meant that the entire process of getting all of my mail and contacts was to log on to the activated phone as I left the Apple Store, and we're done.  Upon getting home I synched up the thing to iTunes and synched the music I wanted, the movies I felt like and the photos I wanted.  I was able to choose photos for my contacts, and since I thought ahead and used iTunes to copy my old ringtones over, Bitsy and Sue are ringing the same as they have for the last 5 years.  The apps are interesting and it will take me a while to get through them all to test the effectiveness of them, but there is something that I can confidently state about this phone: it was made for people who live in a walking city.  Visiting Bitsy in Manhattan I was struck by how useful it was, on the street we could look up an address, find ourself with GPS in relation to it, and be in time to get back home to recharge the little bugger.  Los Angeles is more far-flung and car based than NYC or the SF that Jobs demonstrates all the time.  We'll come back to that complaint come later..

First negative: the iPhone does not use FireWire for recharging.  I can get over the fact that I cannot synch up the bleeding thing using FireWire.  Whatever.  But after years of selling us FireWire chargers and cables (A system that Apple freaking invented) now I can't even use them to charge?  GRRRRR.  Off to buy more overpriced USB cables, since I don't think this little darling is going to want to be far from a recharge.

Second negative: this was a huge one for me and one that I simply did not understand nearly two years ago upon intriduction and really don't understand now.  In 2008.  In states with hands-free laws.

There is no voice dial.

Let me type that again:


Which leads me back to the idea that the people at Apple live in some city where automated maglev transpods are at every other corner, where they tap in their destination via iTunes and settle back for a nice conference call with Steve and Jon about whether the new shade of green for the Nanoes should be key lime or puce.  While looking for the best Margarita and texting via the App store.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are on the 405 or PCH or Beverly Drive or 95 or the GW Parkway or the 7 Mile Bridge or 7th Avenue and would like to tap our bluetooth earpiece and clearly state "call"  "Bitsy"  "Mobile"  "Yes" rather than dig the phone out and keeping one eye on traffic and try to call up the menu with Bits' phone number.

Steve, Bubeh, would you want you mother doing that?  Would she want you to?  Especially when you live in California with all those new laws where you drive that SL55 way too fast?  No.  It's a major disappointment about a critical safety feature that other companies mastered 5 years ago.  Shame on you.

The last thing is that god love them, Verizon did have the network.  AT&T does not.  I barely get a bar in my house, a block away from a building owned by them.  I don't get the vaunted 3G at home, and only at work when I am in sightline of a window.  Mostly this is the equivalent of Dad handing you the valet key to his shiny new red Corvette: you know it's a Corvette, but the chip in the key makes it perform like your Aunt Yetta's Citation.  I am willing to bet the MBA I don't have that someone from Apple contacted someone from Verizon about the iPhone.  I'm sure the meeting went something like this:

Apple: We have this phone that will do everything (demonstrates everything).  With this phone we will control the world! (cue lightning)

Verizon: (checking the amount of pennies they will lose by not charging for every text message and photo download).  Ahhh, thanks, no.  We have a "'Get-Lightning-Now' app for $1.00 a strike"

It's only to be hoped that the person who said no is sitting in a room somewhere hooked up to electrodes forced to watch "The Famous Teddy Z" and iPhone sales numbers until Verizon can get in on the action....

Would I buy?  I did.  Would I recommend?  Yes, with reservations: check to see that you have coverage.  But dayam- this thing really is the blackberry for the rest of us..
Photo: Gizmodo

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman


A beautiful man who did a lot of good things in his life, he was married to the same lady for over 50 years (About whom he famously quipped when asked if he was ever tempted "why have a hamburger out when you have steak at home?") and famously started a food business that is wholly devoted to charity.

In these days of stars that throw phones and tantrums, who spend time in jail when they aren't exiting cars naked-coochie first or who pontificate from on high to the rest of us, take a moment to review someone who did the superstar thing with true grace and true style.

For the rest of us, we have the movies; if that was his only legacy, it would be enough.

A list of those available at Amazon is here


Friday, September 26, 2008

Dahling I love you but give me Park Avenue...

This past week I was back East visiting. I was in Eastern Connecticut on the shore for my friend's birthday and in NYC a day or so on either end. New York was conspiring to be its most attractive: the weather was perfectly balmy without being too warm, the skies clouded over only once and then briefly, and I think I have finally gotten used to the fact that in this post-Giuliani city, the general filth I remember has been replaced by an almost uniformly well-scrubbed sheen. Even getting to the Airport is now a cinch, thanks to the Subway and the new AirTrain system.

Of course intellectually I know that the city is about three times more expensive than what I can (barely) afford in Los Angeles, and that if I did live there it would have to be in a 12th floor walk-up in Queens with 12 room-mates. I also know that this brief bit of glorious perfection weather-wise is marred as I type with monsoonal storms, which will be followed in succession by the personal horror that is Winter then the months -long mud fest that precedes Spring. I don't forget that the very thing that most people hate about LA I happen to love: the idea that we shut ourselves up in our little individual cars and don't interact that much with our fellow man. In LA we live in our own little bubbles. I like my bubble. It has AC and I get to choose the radio station.

But walking down Fifth Avenue after a day of shopping, daydreaming about one of those fabulous apartments (or even one of the less fabulous ones in the Village) I start to get seduced into thinking "what if?"

Photo: my cell phone

Friday, September 19, 2008

Just because Bitsy says I am negative...

Last night after a very nice time with Gaia, the Non-Blonde cruising Manhattan for new stuff to smell (which you will be able to read about here and here shortly) we went to the Jazz Standard to have dinner and see Patricia Barber. She did a great set including some Cole Porter standards reworked with her own devilish lyrics (the crowd ate it up like it was the incredible Macs and Cheese on the menu) and some of her own stuff. If she does come to your town do run out and see her- such talent should be appreciated. If you can't see her, buy the Album at Amazon or iTunes

Photo: Amazon

Friday, September 12, 2008

My Boss was on this train

I am very happy to read that he was okay, and as is his wont helped the injured off the wreckage. That's the kind of guy he is. I'll save the ribbing that this is what he gets for catching a 3:30 train home on a Friday for sometime 300 years from now when it might be funny.

Really, this kind of s^it can happen at any time randomly. Kiss your wife, hug your kids, have a slice of cheesecake, drive a convertible in the moonlight. It could all be over tomorrow, or you could have to do triage when you're there but it ain't over for you. Life's short. Smell a flower. You never know.

Photo:(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times / September 12, 2008)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I want to marry this man.  

Or be him.  

Or both.

How can you not love a guy who drives a 1960 Ford Sunliner with the top down even in Winter and named his Sheltie "Snippy"?

Oh, P.S. to Ford: "Sunliner" is a cool name.  Use it again, will you?


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Meaningless statistics:

Number of vehicles traveling the intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica in Beverly Hills: 96,000.*

Daily population of the former World Trade Center: 50,000**

Population of the town I live in now: 34,980 in the 2006 census***

Population of my hometown: 28,978 in the 2000 census****

Number of Mary Kay consultants in the UK as of 2006: 5000*****

***Source: Wikipedia
****Source: Wikipedia
*****Source: Wikipedia

Monday, September 01, 2008

90210 premieres tomorrow

Do you care?  I don't.

It looks if possible emptier than the original.  Actually that's not fair, Aaron Spelling might not have been Shakespeare, but he did try to stuff a bit of morality in there somewhere: Brandon did suffer the consequences of drinking and driving for at least a couple of episodes.  The new one looks glossier, more expensive and thoroughly botoxed.

Personally, I think there's a repeat of "The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency" on that I might have to catch.  Janice is waaaaay more fun.  Trust me.

Image: the CW

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Gentle Art of Conversation

The companies names have been changed to protect the hopelessly crass.. and me.

Okay, today was a nice day.  I got up early and went to an event sponsored by the lovely and talented (the woman makes shoes for god's sake- reeeeally nice ones.  To order even..) Wendy put together at the Strange Invisible Perfumes shop in Venice, CA (which you will read more about at a later date on Marina's blog)  

Then I met a friend for lunch at California Chicken Cafe (so yummers and so cheap!) and we wandered around Santa Monica.  We stopped into a store that she frequents that sells, bath salts.  Yes, that's it, it sells all sorts of bath salts.  My friend is a, car dealer, which tangentially touches upon my job since I work in finance at, Chrysler.  As a matter of fact I happened to be carrying a tote bag that day to take notes for the SIP event that I got at work proudly emblazoned with the, pentastar logo.  At lunch we lamented the state of, Chrysler and the fact that the new owner Cerberus was cutting jobs and thinning out the number of models available.

In any case, we stopped into the bath salts place and the owner and my friend chatted.  My friend mentioned that we had lamented the state of, Chrysler.  The owner went into a mini-rant about how, Chrysler was pretty bad to begin with and now was just "pathetic".  That she was appalled when she moved here years ago to see the, autos that Chrysler was foisting off on our area when back home in Washington, DC General Motors was putting out a far better product.

Okay, fine.  Point taken; truth be told I think that some of the line should be cut.  I think the new Sebring is a disaster: a nice car hobbled my bad detailing.  I think it may even go under, or be taken over by another company.  But I am standing there in my Burberry polo happily smelling of about six things better than your crap-ass bath salts could aspire too, full of yummy Cal Chix and behind three glasses of SIP's champagne and wondering over the depth of your bad manners.  I mean, Chrysler is part of LA.  You are in LA.  I am holding a bag that is emblazoned with, Chrysler and the pentastar logo.  I would not walk into your store and loudly declaim that your bath salts are sub-par and point out that no modern bathtub could possibly hold your avoirdupois and suds, even if I thought it, because that would be rude.  I would not point out that you were in a business that has no future, since everyone showers these days anyway (disclaimer: I am going with this for the sake of the simile.  I like baths.  I like bath salts.  In a perfect world my bathroom would resemble the Beauty Level at Bergdorfs.  With a wave pool).

Was there a tipping point where people became so out of tune to that fact that they were talking to other people that they don't take into context that their likes and dislikes are perhaps not universal and should not be presented as such to the casual acquaintance?  My friend Bitsy hates capers.  We are old and censorious friends, so I can laugh off her notion that I am evil and deformed for loving those little hellish balls of silt while chiding the fact that her taste buds froze in 1978 and perhaps she should join the rest of us who have moved off soft foods.  

But for the most part I think it's best to save the really negative stuff until you're sure you are in like company.  Trust me you'll look less like an a##hat.  Even if you're confronted with a recently remodeled entryway featuring key lime and hot pink: look at a point about three feet away and exclaim "how energizing!  I feel brighter just walking in the room!"

Because somebody ALWAYS works at Chrysler..

Oh and as an aside, to straight guys (like any of you are reading): get into perfume.  I was one man amongst about 20 really fine ladies offering up various parts to sniff...

Friday, August 15, 2008

My Godchild turned 16

We had dinner at a place on Glendale Blvd. in Silverlake called Gingergrass.  Yummy Vietnamese fusion food, great service and not bad price-wise.  If you're in the neighborhood and hungry, it's well worth a trip.

The kid got books (from her parents) and Bandit (from me), all of which pleased her.

I'm happy that she was pleased by my gift but was terribly proud that she wanted books.

That and her taste level is such that I want to borrow them...

Photo: Gingergrass

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


My friend Bitsy in New York sent me this picture of iconic LA gal Angelyne out shopping. For the three of you who are unawares, Angelyne is a local celebrity and has been one since the early 80's when her billboards popped up all over Hollywood. She drives a hot pink Corvette (the latest one apparently an ad trade from a Hollywood Chevy dealer; she's no dummy, that Angelyne), has masses of blonde hair and a girly, breathy little voice and has managed to pop up in the credits to the TV show "Moonlighting" and movies "Earth Girls are Easy" (as a customer at a gas station) and "The Day After Tomorrow" (Look closely, the billboard that pastes the obnoxious TV reporter is her). She lists her age as 44 according to voter records. I am changing mine to 16 then. No visit to LA is really complete without an Angelyne sighting: keep your Britneys and whomever-from-"The Hills", she's the real deal.

I love her, really, she's the quintessence of everything that I love about LA. The frank inability or desire to let age, decorum or even gravity dictate your look. She's all dressed up and ready to fall in love, to quote Divine, and she makes my day go that much faster for that fact. You go, girl!

BTW- Paris Hilton, meet your future self. If your lucky.

Photo: Bitsy

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Pansy's Movie Sunday

This Sunday was hot, so it was the blessed AC at (and passes, the only reason to brave) The Pacific Theaters at The Grove.  I won't go into the idea that in the midst of an actual city comprised of actual neighborhoods that people want to congregate in a bad simulacrum of some town square in Iowa; just the endless piped-in music makes me pray for the big one.  But I had passes, soooo...

First up was "Mamma Mia" and a good time was had.  I love that this is making money and am shocked that Hollywood is shocked that this, along with "Sex and the City" would make money.  This if anything should put paid to the idea that the Gays control Hollywood.  Hello!  If we did, these movies are all you would see!  C'mon: Meryl bouncing around, singing up a storm and playing around in a role that she is truthfully 20 years too old for?  (before you throw stones, she's supposed to be the mother of a 20 year old, the product of a youthful, serial fling when she was a dancing queen of 17.  Do the math)  Not to mention the movie doesn't make the point that it's happening in, say 1999.  Because that free-love could have happened in '79.  Trust me in '89 there was no free love.  There was no shared chap-stik.

Later was "Brideshead Revisited".  I will reserve most judgements until I can re-read the novel that I last read about 1978 or perhaps revisit the miniseries that Netflix refuses to send to me, but I think that the movie simplifies and dumbs down both for modern audiences.  The people in the novel are almost alien to modern audiences, for good or bad (I vote good) the idea of repressing ones self in the name of religion, class or what's generally considered to be good taste is in these days as obsolete as the crank that Charles and then Sebastian uses to start his car.  As a matter of fact modernity and good taste conspire to smother this movie: modernity in that the relationship between Charles and Sebastian can be neatly boxed in a single uncomfortable kiss and good taste manages to strangle much of the rest.  But if you've never read the book or seen the 1981 miniseries, you'll have a good time.  

The only other thing that struck me is that the guy who plays Charles and I have exactly the same eye color, even to being green, grey or blue depending upon the clothes.  That and the fact I was mentally registering the crystal. silverware, statuary and drapery I suppose reflects upon the whole experience as stuff-porn rather than being engaging as actual storytelling.  But I am all over the stuff-porn, especially when it's this high grade: this is Columbian Flake Stuff-Porn, delivered by high-cheekboned earnest RSC actors.  For G-d's sake Emma Thompson's here, dead as smelt, directed to take a role that is supposed to be captivating but..

Oh go see it.  Any movie that's designed to be for someone who is thinking, like this. deserves it. 

So, the three of you who might read this and who might or might not channel Anthony Blanche, what did you think?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Project Runway Series 5

You knew it was going to happen- series 5 has hit before it defects to a rival network.  So far there are a bunch of people who seem less interesting than the past seasons, and only two who are in the running for "most obnoxious": the first is "Suede" who refers to himself in the third person, as in "'Suede' would like a bagel."  "In this competition, 'Suede' has no equal" or in my words, "Suede" needs to be slapped, hard and long.  But elbowing "Suede" out of the way in the Obnoxioso sweeps surely must be the audibly tanned (props to Fran Lebowitz) Blayne.  If only because his caramel colored skin and blond-wood hair resemble a rumpus room from "The Ice Storm".  I want to feed him a Roofie, dye his hair brown and spread a thin layer of Jolen Creme Bleach on his skin, watch him tenderly as he slumbers and upon his awakening gently, sweetly hand him a mirror.

But that's not because I am bitter and old.  No.


You may have heard about the fiasco with .Mac/MobileMe. Basically Apple decided that they would roll out this new service at around the same time they would intro the new iPhone. Of course many people had problems, including me. Apple reports that all of the problems are fixed, and that I'm not one of the 1% affected. Except for the fact that I can't email anyone. Oh, that's not true, I can email people from my Yahoo! account. The one that doesn't cost me $99 per year. Think I'll be renewing? I think not.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On Shaky Ground...

We had an Earthquake today, centered in Chino Hills. It shook the complex I work in, which was interesting- the 20's part of the building was moving in a slightly different direction than the 70's portion. Really no more damage than some frayed nerves and a few fallen ceiling tiles. But it's a reminder of what can befall Southern California literally without warning.

Personally, having lived in areas with Tornadoes, Hurricanes, brutal winters and Koch-era Times Square, I prefer the quakes. They come without warning and you're either dead or you're not. For me, that beats huddling in the cellar waiting for the storm to pass....and no that's not (just) me being flip, I've been there.  I've lived through one of the smaller big ones and the damage while expensive wasn't as widespread as say the damage from Katrina.  Yes, people in '94 died (72 to be exact), but most people were simply inconvenienced.  I remember that year there was a killing cold snap in the Northeast that winter.  Frankly, I still would rather be picking up the stuff in my apartment that had fallen over with no heat in shirtsleeves than freeze.

But I truly do want to thank all of the people who emailed me to ask if everything is okay, I really appreciate it.  Yes, it's a bizarre and singular experience to be sitting in a building and feel it do a shimmy that I'm too old to pull off.  Our mastery of this planet is an illusion, and sometimes Mother Nature gives us a little nudge to remind us.  Luckily, this was a love tap.

And no, thank goodness, no Bell Jars were harmed in this adventure....


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Smell good...

Okay, I don't kid myself about how many people read this blog or are waiting with bated breath for my latest rant.  But can I just write how much I am in love with this scent?  I wrote on Marina's site about how much I enjoyed it; this was after having it for a week.  Much like finding, or better recognising that a casual acquaintance will be a lifelong friend or that a momentary passion could be a lifelong love I think that this one will be as much a permanent part of my own collection (and daresay a hit for Annick Goutal) as Eau d'Hadrien.  That's saying (well writing...) a lot.  Annick Goutal was arguably the first Niche perfumer, surfacing in the very early 80's in the Americas, for me at Bergdorf Goodman in an era when more was decidedly more.  I've certainly exhaustively covered the whole era here, so there's no need to rehash.  I've also written about the other three in the Orientalistes line here, any one of which are not only worthy additions to the line, but a balls out (pardon the phrase) notice that not only is Annick Goutal is BACK, but she ain't taking a backseat to anyone.  Frederick Malle?  Serge Lutens?  L'Artisan?  Uhh, yes, she is looking at you.

Musc Nomade is divine: a skin that you want to wear, smooth, tanned and slightly salt-licked.  Scrupulously clean but ripe and succulent, and with not one extra note to detract from your own fabulousness.

Available only at the lovely and kind Miss Tio's website, as are so many delights, but for the life of me I can't find where?  If I hear from her I'll update..

PS- this is an aside to posting on Marina's site, I just don't think that repeats should post there.  In this case the repeat was worthy..

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What's Your Mileage?

I've noticed that a lot of new car ads mention the purported mileage of whatever model they are touting: I.E. "The new Belchfire 6000 (props to AutoExtremist)  gets the best mileage of all SUV's over 6000 lbs when ordered without A/C and when pointed downhill with the wind in the sails.

My own car, which was built back when one airbag was a big deal and crash tests were less lax gets about 36 MPG city and 45 highway since it weighs about three pounds and is made of tinfoil and fond hopes.  Even with that my urge to drive to Santa Barbara for lunch has been curtailed.  I wonder that the spectre of $5.00 a gallon gas has been brought home to us all, and that has breached a psychic levee for us as a nation; the price of oil has dropped, and gas in LA has dropped to under $4.50 a gallon.  That price could go further south (and since it's an election year no doubt will), but I find myself acting as if that $5.00 gas is an ever present threat: I want to see cars that get at least 30 mpg city before I would buy; my previous fantasy cars have gone from a Z-4 to a Smart Cabrio.  The last time I filled up my lilliputian gas tank cost $34.00.  Which sounds like nothing to the owner of a Hummer, especially since I was on fumes, but I remember when it was less than half that.  My bill at the grocery store has doubled too.  Oddly, my salary has not.  Has yours?


Monday, July 21, 2008

Movie Madness

I just saw the last "Batman" movie (the first one with Christian Bale) and I liked it, except for one small scene.  It's one that has been done in other (usually cheesier) movies.  Subway/elevated train car goes out of control and crashes in station, taking out many, many of the beams supporting the station until the train cars come to a rest.

Note to the FX people: I'm not an engineer or a rocket scientist or nothing, but I am relatively sure that something that's basically an aluminum tube would not take out something that's designed to hold up a building.  Not at the speed of your average subway car.  That would be somewhat like me backing up my Civic and accidentally knocking over the Washington Monument...

Picture: MIT

Kath and Kim are coming to America..

Sadly not this Kath and Kim. These two are the real, the original ones from the hoot-and-a-half Australian show which could briefly be seen by the six of you who had Trio, the digital-cable station that flared briefly and died too soon. NBC is doing a new version which looks to have drained any of the humor of the Aussie version.

Why do they do these? Who knows. I am sure that there are layers of stuff that, not being from down under I am missing. The sad thing is that American TV rarely manages to take one of these and better them by Americanizing them. Here's hoping that someone from Australia takes pity upon us poor yanks and offers a region-free DVD of this series and soon. Or better yet, Bravo could shove aside one of the 8 bazillion repeats of "Date my Ex" to show this gem..


image: New Zealand Herald

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Brini is back!!

For the two of you who haven't seen her in action, Brini Maxwell has decided to grace us with snippets from her old NYC cable-access show via iTunes! Each episode is great fun, and I guarantee you'll end up taking copious notes. Also available is season one of her show on the criminally short-sighted Style network (uhh, where is season two, people?) as well as her book, Brini Maxwell's Guide to Gracious Living.

Brini Maxwell is the devilishly clever creation of New York actor Ben Sander. Coming across somewhat as Sue-Ann Nivens on acid, Brini delivers surprisingly helpful tips and tricks for those of us who, unlike such home-improvement divas like Martha Stewart, sadly lack 14 room houses, 7-figure incomes and hordes of (off-screen) gay boys devoted to keeping the copper pots clean. Brini's original show was shot in her tiny New York apartment, and was devoted to showing all of us how to make a small space cheerful, welcoming, and surprisingly chic. Brini whips up everything from Janet Lee's meatloaf to Dina Merill's strawberry pancakes on a hotplate in her galley kitchen, usually spurred on by her sidekick Mary Ellen (the hilarious Thom Hansen). I defy you not to Google her recipe for devilled eggs (all right I won't torture you, it's on her myspace page).

Her studied seriousness (and her slightly passive aggressive catchphrase "now why didn't YOU think of that?") makes Brini Maxwell priceless, but it's the honest usability of her tips, tricks and recipes that make her completely brilliant..

Photo borrowed from Brini's myspace page

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Note To Jesse Jackson:

You always treat a gun like it's loaded.

You always treat a car like it's in gear.

You always treat a microphone like it's live...


Monday, July 07, 2008

Chris and Don: A Love Story

This holiday weekend I decided with my friend Sue to celebrate the country's 232nd birthday by seeing this documentary, about the 30-odd year relationship between author Christoper Isherwood and artist Don Bachardy. Isherwood, as you know was the writer of "Christopher and His Kind" and "Berlin Stories", which was the basis for the play and film "Cabaret". Bachardy became a noted portrait artist during his years with Isherwood, painting or sketching people from Governor Jerry Brown of California to film stars like Joan Fontaine (who famously despised the portrait) and Bette Davis (who did not).

Chris and Don met on Will Rogers beach in Santa Monica in the mid-fifties when Bachardy was 18 and looked younger. Isherwood was nearly 30 years older than Don, yet made no attempt to hide his relationship from the Hollywood circles he moved in. Some, as told in a funny anecdote about visiting the set of a John Ford movie simply thought (or chose to think) that they were father and son. Others (like Joseph Cotton, whom I previously would have thought better of...) were openly insulting to what they thought of as at best an ornament, at worst a catamite. Cotton loudly and publicly derided what he called “half-men.” Such good manners...

What makes the movie so compelling is Don Bachardy. It's clear that there was true love in that relationship; Bachardy admits that there were tensions based on both the age and class differences: middle-aged Isherwood was a Cambridge drop-out and grew up to the Manor (literally) born while Bachardy was raised by middle class parents in Glendale. Bachardy had wild oats he wanted to sow, and sow them he did with Isherwood's permission. He does admit that he forced Isherwood to do the same and was chagrined that Isherwood found young and attractive partners. Although there was their share of tension and more (after all in many states homosexuality was still illegal), you get the impression that not only was there a great deal of love there but quite a lot of respect.

Don is interesting- he's taken on the mannerism and even the speech of Isherwood, and sleeps in on a daybed in his office in their shared home. Full of life at 75 he no longer drives; he bikes around greater Santa Monica and (in a scene that caused my fellow to viewer to gasp "he's putting us to shame!") is shown merrily working out at his local gym. He also still works, he's shown with several life models on portraits. He's as trim and charming as the 18 year old man that Isherwood fell in love with.

In this year in which Gay Marriage is going to be a wedge issue, especially in California, it's interesting to note that there are relationships that on the surface seem to flout convention, but underneath it's the conventional, and wonderful emotions that are universal to us all.

Photo: Zeitgeist Film

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A Major Geek Moment

One of my favorite shows back in my childhood was Space: 1999.  One of the great things about that show was the fantastically thought out production design (the boys at Apple were clearly fans) and the clever and believable design of the workhouse space shuttle, the Eagle.

Here you can read about one fans (I think herioic) quest to restore one of the models to pristine condition.  I wish I had this sort of focus...

Yep, I am a complete and utter nerd...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I saw Wall-E

This weekend at the theaters at the Americana at Brand in Glendale. The Americana is the new mega-mall in Glendale built by the people who built The Grove in Los Angeles. Both feature simulated town squares with giant fountains with "dancing waters" and stores arranged in a simulacrum of some mythical town square. What makes The Americana stranger is that it's right on the main shopping street of Glendale, sucking people off the actual town square into its relentless maw of consumerism. Believe me that the irony of being in an air-conditioned room full of people wolfing down junk food watching this movie was not lost upon me. Nor was the irony of a company like Disney, who will make a fortune hawking useless, non-biodegradable plastic Wall-E and EVE toys preaching the evils of rampant thoughtless consumerism. I wonder if it was lost upon the good people at Disney...

Image: Wikimedia

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Gas here has hit the wall.  The station at the corner of Beverly and LaCienega is at $4.99 for a gallon for regular.  My commute to work is ten miles each way.  Now I realise that gas prices are falling and that perhaps that this is an expensive station, but history has taught me that the high that was unthinkably unbearable quickly becomes not only a baseline cost, but a fond memory: just in the past few years I remember outrage at the idea of $3.00 gas and the $4.00 gas hazzerei was about three months ago, right?  Of course, there are the usual suspects that want to use this excuse to drill for oil from everyplace from the California coast to the average teen's forehead, never mind that it would have be the equivalent of accidentally cutting your leg off at the knee with a chain-saw and then worrying about the state of your pedicure.  What it means (at least for me, cheap ass that I am) is that we need to reinterpret our priorities.  Do we need to drive 3 miles to a MacDonalds to buy a coke?  Do we need to have a car that will take care of the absolute 100th percent of our possible needs when 99 percent of the time we don't need to?  I mean, okay you have to tow a boat.  24/7?  I've stuffed a gaggle of teens into a Civic for a trip to the Getty.  Was it pleasant?  No.  It was also mercifully short, but you know, unless those teens were willing to pony up for a rental they could freaking well deal with it.  Shanks Mare would have been worse.

Of course it's easy for the childless (oh fine, friendless also, thanks so much for pointing that out...) to suggest that you could make these changes.  Even in notorious public transport-free Los Angeles, we have enough public transportation that I can commute to work not using a car, and even on the weekend a trip to Santa Monica the bus takes a while but is gilded by the fact that I can ignore parking restrictions and permit only zones.

For me that $5.00 was the breaking point.  I've shifted my idea of a dream car.  I chortle at the ads for BMWs I previously lusted after proclaiming 25 mpg highway.  25?  Call me when it's 50!

Personally I am all over the Generals new car, the Chevrolet Volt (the graphic comes from them).  Yes, the bad, bad evil GM is doing it's corporate damndest to get us pretty much close to a gas-free car.  All I ask is that they please be so kind as to give us a convertible version.

Now that's auto porn a penurious New England Puritan can sign onto...