Thursday, March 27, 2008

Folie a Deux in Beverly Hills

There are two new developments near to being approved on the West side of Beverly Hills. One is the Richard Meier at 9900 Wilshire, the other an addition to the Beverly Hilton hotel, which will add condo towers and a new hotel to the area. One could argue the merits of of any of these projects architecturally, argue that they are "green" buildings, argue that they will generate less traffic than the Target or Wal*Mart or crack den that the developers say they could legally jam onto their lots. What can't be argued is that a hotel that doesn't have enough parking as it is is not going to gain more by building a second hotel building and condo towers, especially since the parking at the old Robinson's will be taken by, you guessed it, more condos.

The rationale of the city seems to be that Century City is allowed to build a new, shiny 45-story ultra-luxe condo tower on Santa Monica Boulevard just outside of the city limits designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. The city is upset that streets in Beverly Hills will be of course impacted by the traffic that will be generated. This begs the question, does the city think that adding more traffic to one of the busiest intersections in the county will help? Or do they feel that if they make the area so impassible those pesky outsiders will stick to Pico and leave us city residents in relative peace? One could call it the "If Johnny jumped off the Hollywood sign, would you?" school of urban planning.

One of the reasons I was originally against the Montage development had nothing to do with the city's supposed giveaway of city land (which was idiotic), the rather incredible claim that they project would generate no traffic or even the tactics of the developer to try to stop having the project come to the populaces vote: my reasons against the project were that it was not to the city's general plan, and would merely be the first in a long list of projects that would come through the city saying "me too"

Like the William Morris building across the street from the Montage.

Like the Casden Properties condo tower at Saks.

Like the development at the Hilton and 9900.

Of course we were told at the time that those were crazy scare tactics being used by the evil hotels like the Beverly Wilshire and the Peninsula, bad, bad hotel people who wanted to stifle free trade and the ability to own a condo above a hotel and be able to walk to Starbucks.

Because at this rate, it'll soon take you about an hour and a half to drive there...

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Celsius Soda is here

It's another one of those magic-bullet sort of drinks that promises that you will burn calories drinking it.  Basically it has six kinds of caffeine to keep you buzzed for a few hours.  I'm not exactly the sort of person who mainlines espresso; I have my one double coffee in the AM, a Diet Coke at lunch and a green tea at about 3.  Today I had one Celsius at 9 when I woke up and another one at noon- perhaps I should have eaten in between.  I was vibrating like a tuning for for about two hours.  I can imagine that a Big Gulp of this would be a carbonated heart attack..

Friday, March 07, 2008

Brian's mother died..

One of the more hellish aspects of the internets is that one can stumble across information that one perhaps needs to be a little prepared for.

One of them was the notice in the online version of the local hometown paper that my friend Brian's mother died. The obituary rather starkly noted that she had been predeceased by her son, my friend Brian.

I met Brian in junior high school. He was at the time a slight boy with bright red hair, cornflower blue eyes and the wickedest tongue outside of the Algonquin round table. He was also out and proud (well, it could be argued that it would have almost been impossible for him to be in) and woe to the person who thought that he could be bullied or put down for being so. I marvelled at his courage; there was no way that I was going to emulate it but I was determined that I was going to be friends with him. Friends we became. We were friends through junior and senior high school, friends through college, friends through my time living in New York and his living in Boston. I stayed in his apartment in Dorchester after leaving New York and having no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  He had an idea. He had applied to be a flight attendant, thinking that his major in German language would come in handy. He'd get paid a decent amount of money, be able to travel the world and meet new and interesting people. Pretty good for a kid from Western New England who's mom was a nurse and who grew up in a tiny farmhouse in the sticks.

Within a week of leaving for the training he was back. He wouldn't say why and I didn't want to pry it out of him but I knew it was something bad and he didn't want to talk. I tried to jolly him up and still smile over the fact that I was able to make him really laugh. Hard. I stayed a few weeks longer then moved for a couple of months to a sublet by Fenway Park, then back to our hometown. Then I got the news that Brian was very ill. He had AIDS, and it was affecting his brain. I drove with our dear friend Moo (nicknames to protect the innocent) in a borrowed car to the hospital in Boston to see him. He recognised us, barely, and spoke to us not making much sense. He was terribly frail and it was obvious to all of us that this might be our last meeting. We embraced goodbye, I dropped Moo off at her sisters place in Cambridge and I drove home. How I will never know. The night before the funeral I literally cried my eyes out, as I have never cried for anyone before or since. I cried so much that my eyes were swollen shut the morning of the service; I wore sunglasses there, and not for effect. In the depth of her mourning (which must have been unfathomable- I lost a dear friend, she lost a child) she was kind enough to invite us to her home for a reception.  All of us, and there were throngs.  Brian touched many lives.

Of course I moved away and fell out of touch. We weren't close to begin with, I was simply one of those strange birds that was in her son's life. I'm sure she looked at our antics with bemusement, as if one of her son's orchids had dropped in for a cup of Constant Comment and a bitchy chat. But she was kind, accepting and loving to her son when there were people who would without thinking of it turned their back on them, at a time when many parents did. That should be noted somewhere; if it cannot be in the dry pages of my hometown newspaper, then if can here, even if only 6 people will read it and only one of you know will what I am talking about.

Image: ActUp NewYork

Is there anything prettier than an Italian exotic?

The blonde is sort of cute too..

2008 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione Spider


Thursday, March 06, 2008

A Matter of Distance...

A Google Earth moment.

I grew up in New England.  I live in Los Angeles.

In the twenty-odd years I lived in New England trips to Boston were considered long.  In twenty-odd years in Los Angeles, trips of that length were considered lunch.  The commute I engage in daily for work was one that I had to seriously beg my parents to make to see "Star Wars" in Dolby.  I've become a curious hybrid of LA and New England: I don't think twice about driving to Santa Barbara for lunch, but I think it's sinful not to walk to the Beverly Center

Can't they all just get along?

Really, all this sniping is just stupid.  One of you win already and shut up...

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Cube Los Angeles

Since I am determined to keep no facet of my life no matter how trivial from the pages of this blog, and I am trying to keep it as fresh as possible I will report that I had dinner Saturday night at Cube, a restaurant on LaBrea Avenue in Hollywood.   It of course helped that I was dining with dear friends and had a nice wine with us, but the food was fantastic.  I had the wild boar tortelloni in browned butter, my friends had wild mushroom ravioli and pizza margherita.  My dessert was a rose infused cheesecake I am determined to steal the recipe for.   My friends had panna cotta with raspberries and balsamic and a wonderful set of home-made donuts.  That's right, donuts.  It wasn't even hugely expensive.  Service was a little spotty (note to waiter, if you take my fork I will need a replacement to eat my entree- I don't eat pasta with my hands.  Not out, anyway)

I will definitely go for more- I'd love to try the cheese tasting menu- they gave us an amuse-bouche that was some sort of Swedish or Norwegian hard cheese whose name I should have written down: HookenFleuvenStrabe or something like, crumbly, tangy and wholly wonderful.

Definitely worth a trip- but bring your own wine. They don't have a bar; they don't charge corkage either.  615 North LaBrea, just south of Melrose.  (323) 939 1148

Photo: Cube Cafe