Friday, December 31, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Cool fireworks in Auckland, Sydney and Taipei.

I hope we all have a happy, prosperous and safe 2011!

screenshot from The Telegraph

Monday, December 20, 2010

Out Came the Rain..

This has been a wet weekend in the City of the Angels. According to the August LA Times, there has been record rainfall in Downtown and at the airport with more on the way. There's a stereotype about LA that people cannot cope with precipitation, and unlike most stereotypes there's a bit of truth in there. People either slow down to a crawl that is far out of proportion to the amount of rainfall or worse, speed like maniacs. I've more than once seen an SUV go merrily twirling through an intersection because the driver clearly thought the electronic nannies, all-wheel drive system and sheer mass made them immune to hydroplaning. Infrastructure seems to go wonky as well as at some major intersections traffic lights seem to conk out to 4-way blinking red at the first sign of moisture.

But the worst effect are slides. If there has been a fire in the recent past the area can easily collapse into a devastating mudslide. Even area that haven't been burned aren't immune: parts of Mulholland Drive have collapsed just because, one only a few months ago. We're on shaky ground in Southern California, in more ways that we can count.

So, fellow City dwellers, the sandbags are now available. Slow down, and look on the bright side. It could be snow..

Photo: my iPhone

Friday, December 17, 2010

I've stolen this from my great friend Terre who sent it on.


All props to her..

Ah, yes, as the year comes to an end, let me just say....

there were probably many, many times this year when

I may have...

Disturbed You,
Troubled You,
Pestered You,
Irritated You,
Bugged You,
Or got on your Nerves...


So today, I just wanted to tell you







Suck it up, Cupcake!!

'Cause there

ain't NO CHANGES

planned for 2011!!


******************************************************

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I've been De-Rapided!


A post (that I'm sure you've all read, riveted as you are on my every sentence) about five years ago lamented the fact that a "Rapid" bus was added to my line along Beverly to work. Thankfully for me they added a stop at Doheny Drive which made it more accessible, but I stand behind my original argument that it was a dippy idea in the first place. Apparently the people at METRO (what they're calling themselves these days until they collapse a street under an orphanage and change the name again) have decided the 714 was silly and are killing it. Could it be? A rare case of common sense from Metro? We'll see. They say that they will apply those resources to the non-express 14 line. I certainly hope this means that I can expect not to grow a beard waiting for a bus that actually goes to Beverly and Pico rather than just to the Beverly Center. Because, METRO, traffic is getting worse and worse. If you actually served the Westside people who live here might take you. The fact that I was late for a meeting at BH City Hall that was at 2:30 when I was at the bus stop on Olive downtown for your "Rapid" bus at 1:08 doesn't bode well for you. Or the fact that you don't run a Wilshire local bus past Westwood or a Santa Monica Blvd. bus past Sepulveda during the hours when anyone would be awake. I shudder to think what you'll do when you have your subway...

Here's a concept for you. Get out of your Lexus and take your system. You have the chance to align your subway with major bus routes; don't blow it. Stop the stupid practice of having local buses stop a block away from rapid ones; most of us don't care if we have to walk a few blocks, we just want to get there in the same year. In short, if you can't figure out some way to make this system work, how about asking some of us who make the choice to use it.

Perhaps even, I don't know, listen?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Harvest Moon: Cimbalom


Some of the perfume blogs have gotten together to review Cimbalom, Roxana Vila's lovely natural perfume with notes of citrus-kissed jasmine, and a deliciously gingered patchouli. Click onto:


Donna at Examiner

Ida at Cafleurbon

and Roxana's blog:


Image: Illuminated Perfume Journal

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween is on AMC


It premiered in 1978, when I was six. I remember seeing it with my sister in the then busted down Calvin Theater. The Calvin was one of the three theaters in my hometown at the time. There was the Academy of Music, where the prestige and/ or art films were screened. "Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie" would be there. There was the Pleasant Street Theater, which was practically a sheet on a pole. "I Am Curious (Yellow)" would have screened there. Mainstream features were at the mall in Hadley.

My sister and I saw it at The Calvin. It was once one of the jewels of the town, with an ornate ceiling, proscenium and balcony. By 1978 like most of its brethren it was "improved" with dropped ceilings, indifferent staffing and no lighting. Which served the movie well.

There's a passage in Stephen Kings "Danse Macabre" where he describes seeing "Wait Until Dark" in the same sort of theater in Times Square, and how powerful the scene where everything on screen goes black in a room where there isn't anything lit.

The Calvin was close. When we were picked up we checked every inch of that car including the ashtray before we'd commit to a ride home...

Happily, the Calvin didn't fall to the wrecking ball (like the Beverly and the Warner did in my adopted hometown). It's a lively venue for live music and still shows movies. Good for them.

Photo: Amazon

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nigella Kitchen


Nigella Lawson, my fave Brit import (Sorry, Top Gear) is back on the Food Network with a new series, Nigella Kitchen. It's on at the ungodly hour of 9am Sunday, and of course getting no marketing since she's not a wholly owned creature of the Food Network. But as usual, she delivers.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Staycation


I went to the Petersen and LACMA. Some of the photos I posted on Facebook. More are here.

Photos: my iPhone

Saturday, September 11, 2010

We are all Americans together..


"We will not sacrifice the liberties we cherish or hunker down behind walls of suspicion and mistrust"

-President Barack Obama

"On this day Americans have no division"

-Former First Lady Laura Bush

"Being a hero is not just a matter of faith, it's a matter of choice."

-First Lady Michelle Obama

Photo of WTC beam to be 9/11 memorial at Beverly Hills Fire Station is mine.

Monday, September 06, 2010

video


Happy Labor Day!

I took a walk in Beverly Gardens Park. I especially love the rose garden, which was in full flower.

movie: my iPhone

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Happy Birthday 19th Amendment!


That's right, 90 years ago today women became able to vote in this country, due to a lot of hard work and sacrifices by the suffragist movement- we beat the UK by 8 years. Hard to imagine that when we came this close to having a woman presidential candidate that her grandmother would have been the first woman in the family to be able to vote. Chew on that next time you think it's too inconvenient to bother to do so...

Photo: Wikipedia

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Shop Local!


Rudy Cole in this weeks Beverly Hills Weekly (issue 566) writes that our local hardware store, Pioneer Hardware is in trouble. A combination of a bad economy and the closure of Crescent Drive between "big" and "little" Santa Monica for the Annenberg garage has bitten into foot traffic to all businesses on Crescent, including the irreplaceable Beverly Hills Market, which serves the senior housing (and all of us) with a low-cost alternative to Whole Foods.

There's a lot of talk about being sustainable these days, keeping a small footprint and shopping local. What could be more in line with that than getting your hardware items a short walk or car trip to Crescent Drive with an hour free parking entered from either Crescent or Dayton? I can personally vouch that Pioneer is the same or better on prices than anyplace within miles: when you figure in what you're worth an hour, suddenly that drive 20 miles each way to Costco seems waaay less of a bargain. They also offer a Handyman service for people like me who could topple a wall trying to hang a picture.

If you're not from the area, why not purchase online and add a Green Bag for that "90210" touch? If you are in the area, stop in and say "hello" and discover the other businesses on that block. It's one-stop shopping, all in your backyard...

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Garage Sale this weekend!


My friend Sue is having a garage sale as prep to move to NYC. Saturday, 8/7 at 9 am (early birds will be fed to the cats).

616 N Ave 65, Los Angeles, CA 90042.

From Beverly Hills/Hollywood: Take Coldwater or Laurel to the Valley, get on the 101 East, get in left lane to transition to the 134. Keep left past the junction of the 5 and the 2 freeways. Exit San Rafael Avenue. Right off exit, immediate right onto Colorado Blvd. Left at stop sign to Melrose Ave. 100 feet or so to left at stop sign onto Ave 64. Go south on Ave 64 about 1/3 mile to traffic light at Meridian. Just past light make a left at Pollard, then immediate right at Ave 65. 616 will be on your left.

From Pasadena Freeway: Exit Marmion Way (exit will mention York Ave). Keep left and exit left onto Marmion. Bear right up the hill to light at York Ave. Continue ahead onto Ave 64. Right on Repton and left on Ave 65. 616 will be on your right.

Photo from Google Maps.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Parting is such sweet sorrow..


Well, I knew it was coming. One of my BFF's is moving back to New York. It's really the best thing for her both personally and professionally, and it's not like I never go there, or she wouldn't come here. It's also not like there aren't things today like email, Facebook, and unlimited long distance: it isn't like it was back in the day where we had to tie letters to pigeons or send smoke signals. I've known about these plans also for a while; the email exchange today asking me to visit while she packs brought it home. It's changed me in the dark reptilian part of my heart from supportive friend to pouty 7 year old who's left alone in the sandbox. No more movie partner? No more glass-and-a-half? (that's how boozy we are- one each of white wine and one shared. AA here we come!) No more road trips?!? Arrrgh!

I'll get back to supportive friend at some point in the very near future. I just had to pound some sand...

Photo: Amazon

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy Fourth!


LASnark.com has a list of locations in LA to view fireworks.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Some Enchanted Evening...


A random conversation on an internets comment board reminded me of some of the more back-handed romantic evenings I have had in life. A couple have been with my friend Bitsy: one a trip to Ojai, one a trip to the Berkshires, a couple have been with my friend Sue, a couple with my BFF Mimi. One of the most memorable was with my BFF Auntie Moo, years ago at the Inn of the Seventh Ray in Topanga Canyon. The Inn is one of the most romantic restaurants in Los Angeles, tucked in a small corner of Topanga complete with babbling brook, roaring fire and fairy lights in the trees. It was an El Nino year and the creek was in full run. The evening was cool but not cold and there was a roaring fire. The full moon shone on Moo's Auburn hair and highlighted her "Lifeboat" era Tallulah Bankhead good looks. We ate, we drank, we talked, we laughed.

We went home in separate cars.

But you know, like the other times I've been out with my BFF's even at the most romantic places I wouldn't I'd trade it for the world. There's something to the ease of taking the romance out of the equation that takes some pressure off. I can appreciate the wit and beauty without worrying whether I'm matching it or enticing it. Or something.

For my Vegetarian/Vegan friends (looking at you, Gaia) when you're in LA the Inn of the Seventh Ray is worth a detour. It's Topanga enough to cause hardened New Yorkers to have a granola-induced anxiety attack (really, it's Albie Singer's worst Cali nightmare) but even they will have to admit that it's a gorgeous setting with wonderful food. For a date night under a full moon it's matchless. Put the top down and some Ella Fitzgerald on the stereo for the drive home. Even if you're with your BFF.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

In Praise of Brunettes, Part Deux


Mary Astor was a lady.

Even in parts where she played the other woman, there was an inherent goodness to her. You can see for instance in "Dodsworth" how Walter Huston can reject bored, flighty Ruth Chatterton for grounded, dewy Mary. Along this time in her career she somehow managed to survive a career-killing scandal involving her husband suing for divorce; attempting to enter into evidence her notes on her affair with George S. Kaufman, humiliatingly listing his prowess. The Judge ordered her diaries sealed.

She spent the forties memorably playing against Humphrey Bogart and others as the alternately poisonous and perfect female, and after admitting alcoholism in the 50's she capped her career as the destitute "all I have is ruined finery" Maguffin in "Hush... Hush Sweet Charlotte".

Image: TCM

Monday, May 17, 2010

In Praise of Brunettes


I get the fascination with blondes. It's something that doesn't happen in nature much, and represents youth; some people (myself included) were born towheads and darkened.

But for every icy blond there's a sultry brunette. Grace Kelly's cool flame in "Mogambo" is arguably upstaged by Ava Gardner's rampant Eloise Kelly.

And in "The Birds", Sego-slim Aston-Martin driving 'Tippi' Hedren is contrasted with whisky-voiced Suzanne Pleshette, who makes three minutes smoking in a robe more compelling than the rest of the movie..

Photo: the internets

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Saving the planet, hours and hours at a time..


Those of you who know me know that I take the bus to work. It's a carrot and stick deal; work pays for most of the pass and charges to park. Some of this has spilled over into real life. Like this Sunday when I decided to go to Nordstrom at The Grove to buy a new pair of Topsiders. For some reason I decided I wouldn't drive. Bottom line? 15 minutes at Nordstrom to make the purchase bracketed by an hour each way on the bus. To a mall that's two miles away as the crow flies.

This is the failing of Metro.

Photo: Daily Mail

Sunday, April 25, 2010


"Seduce Me"

I love Isabella Rossellini. She's lovely and obviously smart, and doesn't buy into the Hollywood idea that when you're 50 you have to look 27, or that when you're 50 and refuse to try to look 27 you have to retreat into a life of sexless old-womantude. She's out with a new set of short films on the sex life of various creatures from bed bugs to garter snakes called "Seduce Me" which can be seen online. I suppose it's too racy for TV, since it doesn't shy away from depicting the sex act albeit with puppets (don't ask, just click. Just don't do it at work). Rossellini also doesn't mince words: she uses the P and the V word. I don't know; I'm enough a product of my upbringing as a proper clutch-the-pearls New Englander not to, well, clutch the pearls. But there is a big part of me that is not only completely charmed but also thinks that it's healthier to be able to use the words and admit that we know about the process. After all, the moral choice not to indulge is a lot more noble if you know exactly in what you're not indulging, yes?


Todd Haynes remakes a classic- sort of..


This is something you don't see every day: New York standing in for Los Angeles. Aceshowbiz.com is showing pictures of the location filming of Todd Haynes version of the classic Mildred Pierce for HBO with Madison Avenue and 26th standing in for downtown Los Angeles.

I'm looking forward to seeing it; it's not precisely a remake of the 1945 movie, it's a more faithful adaptation of the original book (mouse over the inviso-text for spoilers). In the book there is no murder, Veda becomes a successful opera singer and runs off with Monty Beragon leaving Mildred to the ruins of her business and an uncertain future with her first husband (/inviso-text).

I like Todd Haynes work a lot and Kate Winslet pretty much can do no wrong. The production (looking at the stills) looks like it will be spot-on. This might make me get HBO...

Monday, April 05, 2010

iCame


iSaw

iPad

iM (slightly) impressed

Easter Sunday was a trip to the Grove to take a look at the iPad. I had to wait a bit to test it. I was between two kids playing games on it (but even I have to say that kids are kids, I'm not a total misanthrope) and a hipster who was testing every inch of the thing. Every App, every program, every nuance for like 20 minutes, with people waiting in line. He even opened the spreadsheet and I swear started doing his taxes on it, moving back and forth to see it in portrait and landscape. Luckily one of the kids wandered off before I just took it from him and clocked him with it. I didn't make a thorough (well not as thorough as hipster-boy, who was still playing with it when I left) but in the 3 minutes I looked I could see the point. I have a laptop so I'm not in the market, but I could see getting an iMac and an iPad as the next computer. The iMac for the screen real estate and the iPad for sitting on the sofa checking email. Certainly as a replacement for Kindle, and certainly if I had a kid or a sig other. One person on the computer and one on the iPad on WiFi. I don't have any reason to buy however, especially since I know that in 6 or 8 months there will be a big price drop or big revision with new features, or both.

Image: Apple

Friday, March 19, 2010

Obnoxious New Trends..


If you at all surf blogs having to do with beauty products (and I do, hyper-masculine thing that I am) you might have noticed one of the more obnoxious new marketing "tools" being used by marketing Tools: thread hijacking. Someone will post about the latest perfume from Bob's House of Stink and suddenly amongst the comments will be something like this:

Thank you for all the great posts from last year! I look forward to reading more interesting topics, maybe about pearl necklace or jewelry on your blog.

8:54 AM EDT"

It will of course be chock full o' links to their site hawking whatever bits of tat they might be trying to unload. I'm all for being entrepreneurial, but this it the equivalent of showing up uninvited to a party with your vacuum cleaner demo in tow. Not cool, and I personally would never click through on so shady an outfit.

Image: Internets

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Passings, and the idea of the ephemeral.


I've left up the memorial to my friend Muriel "Mimi" Monette for almost two months because I think it was the thing to do and because I was shocked to see that nowhere else was her passing noted. Not that I am saying that her family should have posted something in the Paid Death Notices section of the paper, I'm just commenting that the lady should have something. We all should have something. One of the things that Mimi never really "got" was the internet. She liked writing letters. I agree with her; there's something wonderful about pulling out some lovely paper from Crane or Smythson and a good pen and composing a note. I enjoy doing it as much as I enjoy receiving it. I tried to explain to her that while email, IM, blogging and social websites are ephemeral by nature, they are just the modern version of vellum and fountain pen, an illusion of intimacy perhaps but keeping friendships vibrant in ways heretofore not possible. I have a great friend who will most likely be taking a job in New York, which cuts me to the quick until I realise that we've seen each other in person over the past year a handful of times. I have another good friend who might be moving back here after years away, and the way we've been keeping the sense of immediacy in our relationship is through email and the like.

Of course, all of these things are in their nature ephemeral. All of my deathless scribblings on Blogspot will disappear after I've stopped posting for while I suppose. Not logging into Yahoo after a year I assume my mails will go away and the same will happen to dotmac when I stop paying for the service. But having drive past Mimi's denuded apartment today I thought she was wrong. Everything we do is ephemeral. The Pyramids stand but who knows who built them?

I suppose the question is that if everything we do as akin to writing in the sand at the tide line, should we bother? For that I again go back to Mimi; she took pleasure as much in the creating as the money and recognition of having created, and the experiences that the process allowed her to enjoy.

So I will continue to write in the cyber-sand, if only for myself. I hope you do as well.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mimi Monette

1914-2010

I met Mimi the first day I started at Rizzoli Bookstore in Beverly Hills. I was a bit taken aback that the lady who at the time was at least 80 was working at all, much less running around with piles of books. But she was a dervish, charming everyone who came in with her wit and deep knowledge of Art and the City in general. I was immediately enamored of her and very proud that we became instant pals.

Mimi and her sister came to live with her Aunt and Uncle after the Wall Street crash and subsequent death of their parents. They lived with Uncle Edwin Belt, a famous local doctor; one of the first to perform a sex-change operation. Mimi's sister was the more conventional of the two, marrying early and starting a family. Mimi was the prototypical free spirit (and prototypical modern woman, although she loathed being called a feminist) in that she didn't especially want to get married. She enjoyed the company of men, but didn't need to be a wife. This was reinforced by a brief marriage to a man who abused her physically and emotionally she had met while studying in Mexico City, and from whom she fled, leaving almost every one of her possessions to return to the somewhat disapproving Belt household and the United States.

With a degree in Fine Arts from UCLA and having studied in Paris, she turned her talents first to working at 20th Century Fox under costumer Travis Banton before turning to fashion illustration for I Magnin and Bullocks Wilshire, then the best department store in Los Angeles. At one book signing at Rizzoli I had unbidden an Oscar-winning costume designer tell me that Mimi was the top of her field during that time when illustration and not photography really sold the clothes. Upon her return from Paris once in the late 60's she drew some shoes she had seen at an atelier onto one of her models. Magnin had the dress the model sported, but not the shoes. They were inundated with requests from society ladies of LA and the buyers had no rest until they could procure them for sale. Mimi was politely asked to keep the accessories to ones they had in the store..

Mimi travelled the world, saving her earnings so she could take these trips. She met the love of her life in her 50's, but even her couldn't get her to marry. She saw a ring as a yoke. She had more stories than anyone I ever met, about her life, her travels, and the people she met. Despite the fact that later in life she wasn't as comfortable as she would have liked financially, she told me more that once that she never regretted a moment, and I could tell that she meant every word. Her last financial windfall was a small one, but one that pleased her no end; the Boston Museum of Fine Art acquired some of her works for an exhibit on Fashion Illustration in the 20th Century.

Towards the end of her life, her world became smaller. She gave up driving herself. Trips to Santa Barbara in my car became too tiring for her, then trips to Malibu. She suffered from Vertigo and walking too far became an issue. She dealt with this with her typical humor and joie de vivre: she had her art, her books and her correspondence. The last time I saw her we as always had some champagne but I stayed only an hour. I could see that I was tiring her. I'd been trying to reach her the past few weeks and only got a machine, and was worried. Today since I drove to work and holiday traffic would be light I drove to her apartment and I could see that the balcony was denuded of plants and the windows dark. The landlord's phone number was on the sign for the building. I called and he told me that Mimi died three days ago.

They say that when you die that you're met in the afterlife by your family. While that would be nice I hope that first in line is Miss Mimi Monette, ready to hand me a flute..

Portrait of Mimi Monette by Jack Potter, at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Thursday, January 14, 2010

This could be you.


Or me. Or my neighbor. Or my friend. Or my sister. Not just an earthquake in California; it could be a tornado in Kansas, or a hurricane in Florida or a terrorist bomb in New York.

Now it's in Haiti. Tomorrow it could be us. Please give something to help.

Photo: PRI

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Casey Johnson is dead at 30


I don't know Casey Johnson. I hadn't heard of her until she died. I don't know anything about her except that according to the papers she had something to do with the Wisconsin Johnsons.

What I do know is that 30 is too young to be dead.

I do hope that the media will try to respect the idea that Casey Johnson had a Fiancée, family and friends who presumably loved her and are in the midst of mourning her death.

Sadly, since I saw the news van of Action McNews on her street on the way to the grocery store I don't think that will be the case.

Photo: Boston Globe