Monday, October 29, 2007

Over the Ice

Friday night was a birthday party at Liberace's old penthouse in West Hollywood. Hollywood birthday parties are funny because it's hard to believe that someone could really have over 400 friends, but apparently there are friends and then there are "industry friends." Either way, I could get used to going to parties where old celebrities used to reside. The penthouse offered a sweeping view of the city, a lima bean-shaped pool with an entwining bird fountain, and a gigantic fireplace. But the best part was walking into the flamboyant entertainer's old bathroom, where you're greeted with five million reflections of yourself, as every inch of the room is mirrored.

Saturday, dressed as the Sun-Maid, I co-hosted a Halloween party that was a little more down to earth, but just as much fun. People in Los Angeles really know how to do Halloween, since the combination of actors, makeup artists, etc. guarantee for an eye catching costume selection. What I like best about these fetes, though, is that with all the craftspeople on the guest list, there's the knowledge that at any given moment, a movie could be thrown together. Also, there was a pinata, which made me decide that I can only co-host a party if a pinata is involved.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Real Gone

I recently saw two dynamite movies back-to-back: Lars and the Real Girl & Wristcutters: A Love Story. Both films have unbelievably twisted plots that would seem ridiculous on first read. But with incredible acting and a suspension of disbelief, these stories are well executed. There’s an alternate world in each film. In Lars, an entire town is deluded into falling in love with a mannequin, while in Wristcutters, two people actually find love in a land of suicides. Wristcutters made do with a much smaller budget, somehow producing really cool set pieces, while Lars would’ve fallen completely on its face had it not been for Ryan Gosling (my new favorite, move over Jake Gyllenhaal), and both have an awesome score. And, naturally, they made me even more excited to be changing career paths.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon

Kat, one of my three friends in this city, called me at 8:21 on Sunday night. I didn’t have my phone on me and so it went to voicemail, where she asked if she could stay at my place because the fire was creeping dangerously close to her apartment. I didn’t get the message until two hours later, making me feel like a horrible friend.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Up Around the Bend

A couple nights ago, I was reunited with my personal music gurus, Zach+Jed. They were DJing this party I'd been looking forward to for a while now, hyped up for being in the Hollywood Hills, the house where both Fred Astaire and Einstein used to live (at separate times, of course).

I have to admit I was a little disappointed upon arrival, unfortunately. The location isn't so much in the Hollywood Hills, as the Hollywood foothills. And the house itself isn't as grandiose as I expected. Sure, it held 500 people, but there was no pool or sweeping view of the Hollywood sign.

I'm sure Astaire and Einstein lived there at one point, before their careers really took off. But to be honest, Astaire probably never took Ginger back to that little hovel, and Einstein maybe practiced his math there, but it was definitely not fit for his physics exercises.

Nonetheless, Zach and Jed spun a good set, especially since they're the only DJ's I know who aren't afraid to put on some Waylon Jennings every once in a while. And the crowd was certainly easy on the eyes, suitable enough for a first Hollywood party.

Friday, October 12, 2007

In Rainbows

Oh and my apartment itself is also lovely. Using trusty old Craigslist led me to a place that's month-to-month, fully furnished -- just the way I like it. I'm living in the back house that belongs to a funky little hippie family. I share the house with a girl named Destinee, and the rest of the family is always floating around. There are two small blond Californian boys who run around all afternoon without shoes on, a dog on his last leg that's comparable in size to a cow, and a cat that respects my space. The downtown view from my bedroom window is only slightly obscured by a giagantic cactus. To add to the country house flavor, there's also an orange tree, a grapevine, and a bush of Hell's Bells, which is some kind of hallucinatory plant. I'm not making any of this up.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Good Bad Not Evil


I’m pretty happy with my chosen neighborhood, Echo Park. Out of all the neighborhoods in LA, this one makes the most sense to me because, uh, it’s the coolest. This district is a bit rougher around the edges than the others, kinda like the LA equivalent to Brooklyn’s Bushwick.

Just on the tip of gentrification, Echo Park features block-by-block perimeters of progress. For instance, there are chunks of coffee shops and concert venues in one area, and then you drive six blocks south and it’s like Guatemala City circa 1994. But that’s what makes it so cool – you never know what you’re going to get. Yes, some parts are slightly…sketchy (broken down meth houses, etc.), but those areas are just as easy to avoid.

Sometimes, when I’m hanging out around the lake, I feel like the only white person in the entire park. I love it. The park itself is already lively enough, with ducks, birds, geese, and when you throw in the street vendors, the fishers (catch & release), and the family picnics, the Saturday Quinceaneras, the nappers and the joggers, you have a real sense of community that’s pulling together after a patch of rough luck.

It’s like I was just saying the other day: After a while, when you look out the kitchen window, you don’t really notice the bars anymore. They just blend right in, adding a second frame to the scenery.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Village Green Preservation Society

Friday, October 05, 2007

Grow Grow Grow


Is it sick that I actually get a thrill from going on job interviews? Because I’ve been going on quite a lot lately and I just can’t seem to get enough. And since I’ve been blindly sending my resume out to anybody I can get my hands on, the results have been varied.

Sometimes, I get called in to interview for a job that I have no recollection of applying to, and therefore no idea of what I am actually interviewing for, which makes for a delicate meeting. That’s usually when I spend the first ten minutes tap dancing around questions, before figuring out that I have no need whatsoever for the job. At which point, it’s time for me to finagle my way out of the interview.

Or, just for kicks, I sat through 45 minutes of an informational interview, before realizing I was in Pierce Brosman’s office, movie star not present.

And then there are interviews for jobs that I never knew I wanted, until it becomes the sole basis of my desire for an entire week.

That’s when I end up sitting in the Hitchcock theatre on the Universal Studios lot with a big-deal producer/director who is too distracted by the sound mixing board to really focus on the interview, except when he points out that if I am to work for him, I should know that he’s a low maintenance guy with high maintenance needs.

Or I find myself in a shi-shi West Hollywood coffee shop, with a successful Creative Executive, carrying on what I perceive to be a solid conversation about our respective hobbies and families. That is, until we are parting ways and she lets this bomb drop: “Well, good luck in LA, keep your chin up.”

Good luck in LA. Keep your chin up. Really? Because my chin is already up and it’s been that way for a couple of weeks now. And I wanted to tell her that. I also wanted to tell her that she’s making a huge mistake in not hiring me based on my lack of “industry” experience.

But I didn’t tell her any of those things. Instead, I took my overpriced Moroccan mint iced tea, and drove away, after inserting this new device I bought that allows me to talk while I drive. That’s when I call my best friend and tell her all of the things I wanted to tell the Executive.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Song for a Future Generation

My good buddy, Bree, was in town from Seattle for a couple of days with her ramshackle pop band, Tacocat. Sadly enough, their LA show fell through, but we did get to catch up over pizza for a couple of hours before they headed off to their next show in Davis. Here's a little account of life on the road with Tacocat:

I had spent the afternoon silk screening our band t-shirts with Megan from Don’t Stop Believin’ Records. It has a dolphin on a walker, but the dolphin isn’t crippled. It’s just the only way it can walk on land. I also make several dozen pairs of cat ears as a cheap, gimmicky way to make some gas money since we don’t have a record to sell yet. Ears sell like hotcakes.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Watching You Well

With nothing to do today, I responded to a Craigslist ad, volunteering as a PA (Production Assistant) on a music video shoot for the band Vagabond Opera. I'd never actually been on a set before, and it was probably the most fun work I've ever done. As a PA, I ran all kinds of random errands (snack run for the crew, quarters for the parking meters), did makeup for the band, a little bit of Art Department work, and was just a general right hand gal for the director.

Shooting a music video is hard work and can be tedious at times. There's a lot of waiting around, waiting for the techies to do their thing. In the movies, when they're making a movie, and there's 'Lights! Camera! Action!', what they really mean is 'Lights!'. It's astounding to me how much time is devoted to perfecting the lighting in every single shot.

Of course, it really helps that the band actually plays pretty decent music -- kind of a mix between Morphine and Squirrel Nut Zippers, with two saxophones, a stand up bass, drums, and cello -- and they were extremely genuine and low maintenance (as most people from Portland usually are).

Since the video was done with such a low budget (or "Micro Budget"), there were only 15 people in total on the crew, making for fast camaraderie on set. The video was so low budge, however, that when the backup dancers failed to show, I was called on as a replacement. First as a blonde German school teacher, then as a kielbasa-slinging cabaret girl, and, finally, as Greta Garbo.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Start to Dreaming

In between all this driving, I've been exploring. Since I'm still looking for a job, I've found that Los Angeles is a really great town to be unemployed in, the distractions unlimited. There was an Air show at the Greek Theatre, a night out in Venice, trips to Culver City, Santa Monica, and Studio City, Downtown, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Echo Park, and Eagle Rock, not to mention Hollywood & West Hollywood.
There was also a day hike in Elysian Park, with half a view of the city and the other half offering desert, and the National concert, when an old NY pal hooked us up with backstage passes, a job interview on the Fox lot (!), and on average, I eat Mexican food about once a day, don't think I'll ever get sick of that.
I haven't really been stuck in serious traffic yet, although I do welcome little spurts of it because it gives me time to reflect (i.e: get my act together and figure out where I'm going). And U-turns seem to be totally legal here, which is pretty convenient.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Cease to Begin


I arrived in LA one week & three days ago and, since then, I've been doing a lot of driving. This whole driving bit is new to me, considering I hadn't really driven a car in about six years. But I'm getting the hang of it. Sometimes it's cool -- it almost feels like a video game -- and sometimes it's not. I get lost, a lot.

And no matter that I learned how to parallel park prior to moving here, I still need tons of practice in that arena. People love to honk at me when I'm parking! Not that I care, although I have decided that I don't really mind walking fifteen minutes from my parking space to my destination, so long as it means I don't have to parallel park.

At times, though, driving for me is downright terrifying. The 110 at night, for instance, seems to stretch into thirty different lanes, with cars zooming by at over 80mph, the "eye-in-the-sky" helicopter looming above, looking for whatever outlaw is on the lose.

And, this one time, I almost killed a man (pedestrian). Damn near drove right into him, giving him quite the scare, poor guy. I was making a right turn and I guess I didn't check right one more time, like you're supposed to, and whoops. But I was quick on the brakes, he was spry, and I probably would've only broken his legs anyway.

Yes, some days are better than others.