Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Tuesday morning at 9 o’clock

Ahh, beatles reference, nothing beats it! It is of course late afternoon and I am sitting in my uncle’s office with a torrent of water pouring down the little waterfall, it is quite incredible what some rain will do. Today on the train back from Glasgow I saw a rainbow between Paisley Gilmour Station and Johnstone and it made me extraordinarily happy. I do not believe that rainbows represent God’s promise to Abraham never again to destroy the world by flood…even if they are nothing but a refraction of light and water they are miraculous, but I like to believe they are promises of something, pure beauty flung across the sky, living colour against the darkness, a call to remember that life is fucking marvelous and to be lived as deeply as possible. My ipod was presenting a classic rock moment as I watched, a little Marshall Tucker band and led zepplin, it was perfect.

I have this ring I wear all the time, silver with amber set into it. I was sitting on the rapid bus down Wilshire in L.A.next to this guy who was tatted and pierced and covered with jewelry and scarily thin. He liked my amber earrings so we started talking and I was telling him about all of the wonder and magic of the Tucson gem and mineral show, and as we approached La Brea his friend sitting across from us pulled out a rubber tourniquet and wrapped it around his arm, then a little vial and shook some heroin into a spoon and held his lighter under it and then he pulled out a syringe and filled it up and I know my face changed. The pain of his addiction hit me like a hammer for some reason even as I pretended not to see not to know not to feel, I raged at the sadness of the human life before me because every human life is beautiful and I wished there was something inside of me strong enough to stop him, to make him choose life, to give him hope as a gift without judgement…I wished I were more like a rainbow than a girl. He sat there, hand with syringe in pocket, veins bulging beneath the rubber, leg nervously bouncing up and down from the balls of his feet, waiting for the bus to stop so he could shoot up. The guy I was talking to leaned over and said it’s alright, there’s nothing anyone can do but him, but us. And then he pulled this ring off of his pinky finger as he stood to go and gave it to me and it was so unexpected I took it without thinking and then protested but he was already on his way out the door…it’s a prized possession though I don’t know why looking at it makes me happy…

LA Adventures

They’re winding down…a month to go exactly, and I have never loved LA as much as now when I am about to leave it…it is an amazing city. I only have 4 weekends left before I leave, and they are full to overflowing with plans already…This is more of a journal entry for me to look over when I’m nostalgic in Sctland, so apologies…yesterday spent the day with meo and her unborn, haven’t seen her in ages! We went out to brunch and then walked about Silverlake a bit, went to Secret Headquarters, the new comic book store and it’s great, I got Love and Rockets which was madness because i am supposed to be getting rid of all of my material possessions, but i swear i am going to read it on the plane. I also realized that a few blogs ago I stated that men only look good in boxers…the Tomatoes episode, a classic LA moment…and I have to now partially reverse this sweeping statement and say that to ME, men only look good in boxers. Apperently, to other men, men look much better in small colourful briefs or thongs…this thought gives me a shudder, but as proof I offer the following view into Rough Trade:

We wandered on in, it’s quite tame in the front room, you can see the hard core bondage stuff peeking flirtily from the back, and there’s an upstairs as well, but meo wasn’t feeling like stairs so we scarpered. We also found a great T-shirt shop, and I bought one featuring “chelvis,” or che crossed with elvis, it’s ridiculous…

We then headed over to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House, i cannot believe in all my years here I had never gone the 20 minutes down sunset to see it. It’s quite beautiful

though they would allow no photos inside the bastards. I even went to look for a picture to scan of the inside because it is quite glorious but actually found jack all on the internet and I realized my big art books are almost all sold…hooray for that! It was beautiful, if a bit cold, and sadly I discovered that Mr. Wright did not understand plumbing or allowing for rain so apparently most of his 28 roofs leaked…anyways, it’s highly recommended in spite of a slightly annoying tour guide. The views over LA were incredible as well, and since it’s been so windy the sky was incredibly clear, and you realize what a difference the absence of smog can make in your life…

Saw Pan’s Labyrinth, everyone must see it, and on the big screen if at all possible, it is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. With the possible exception of you Chris, if you’re reading this, given it is a bit of a fairytale. Still, it’s an anti fairy tale really, and the previews are crap as it is only partly goth fantasy and the other half you might not be able to resist – the Spanish civil war and the splendid facsist step-father. It’s all about disobediance and doing what is right, has incredible characters with actors to match, and I loved it. I believe i will even buy the dvd as I think it requires a couple more viewings. I have also have discovered I have a bit of a crush on Dave White who writes reviews for movie.com; here’s what he says: “What’s the Deal? Do not, I repeat, do not take kids to this movie unless you’re somehow convinced of their innate worldliness, knowledge of the Spanish Civil War and its dour aftermath and ability to withstand nightmare-inducing horror. Because more than anything, this is a frightening, brutal adult fairy tale that really takes its cues from old-school fairy tales in which something evil never fails to befall hapless innocents. It’s violent, creepy and unlike anything you’ve seen in a while. It’s also insanely imaginative and beautiful. An awesome movie, but not for little kids. At all…And Another Thing: I want to send writer/director Guillermo Del Toro a thank-you note for not being afraid to go down the darkest, most heartbreaking path toward his movie’s ending. Anyone have his address? I might send some chocolates, too.” Alright, so this isn’t the funniest review, a good one was blood diamond, which I was also contemplating: “What’s the Deal? It was high time Hollywood stopped trying to make people care about genocide in Africa with stuff like Hotel Rwanda and simply embraced its natural impulse to exploit. Now it’s just a really exciting and gory backdrop for a chase movie about a hot smuggler chasing diamonds who then falls for sexy American journalist Connelly.

Who Hates Jennifer Connelly? My guess is that it’s director Edward Zwick. I have no proof of this, mind you, other than the little problem of her performance being world-class awful. It’s the kind of sore thumb that makes you think careful editing and a grudge was involved.

When to Check Out: The last scene, when the guy from 7th Heaven is talking and the diamond industry gets to tell you that they do not condone the sort of “conflict diamonds” the whole movie is about. Then there’s uplifting dumbness with Hounsou. If you just get up and go, you’ll save yourself from a big inappropriate laugh in a crowded theater.”

he’s brilliant, I shall be reading all of his reviews from now on.

Today, chinatown with Ruel, haven’t seen him in ages either. We had dim sum at the Empress Pavilion, and it is the best in town…this morning’s feast was worth every second of the hour wait to get a table. Here’s a view of the restaurant, it is huge and packed to overflowing so that the poor servers with their carts full of hot steaming deliciousness can hardly move around…you really have no idea what you’re getting because English is in short supply, but you can see it…we passed on the tentacled thingie that looked somewhat alive, and the shark fin was a surprise but not bad at all if a little chewy.

Go here too if you’re ever in town. 15 pounds heavier than before, we stumbled out the door to get coffee and dessert (managed that somehow without unbuttoning my trousers), and amble around chinatown, saw groups of men standing around playing a complicated game involving concentric circles and white game pieces, a woman playing the something something, I’m really betraying my ignorance today, but the stringed instrument she was playing was heartbreakingly beautiful, a nine year old Mongolian contortionist who did amazing things that made my stomach turn a bit, as you can see:

a woman who could balance absolutely anything…she had 3 raw eggs balanced on a stick on her nose and made it look remarkably easy…I might try it myself later, though I’d be happy with just balancing an egg on an egg in the palm of my hand. Apparently almost no one else can do this 3 egg balancing act, and I quite believe it.

I shall miss this place just a bit I think.

Save

street art graffiti art and art etc.

I’ve gotten over myself finally and am almost back to sunniness…and I’m sitting here pleasantly tired, think I biked over 10 miles today, almost bit it too, made me happy about the small things in life like a face, and no broken bones of course. Some stupid city official felt it necessary to cut a square out of the road about 1X3 feet and I’d say a good 6 inches deep…hitting that at high speed on a road bike almost brought on a strong attack of religion. As I flew I swear I prayed, but I hit the ground safely though my front wheel isn’t so happy…That was in South Central off course.

Anyways, I’m back to things I love about LA because I’m leaving I’m leaving I’m leaving (I’m singing this, I’d like to write a ska tune about it, with lots of horns and a mellow reggae section in the middle). I believe this is graffitti, though I could be wrong, somehow, though, I don’t belive it is a city comissioned art piece though it’s kept up…

I like it though, it’s just around the corner from the Morrison Hotel on Pico. I suppose when the building finally sells it will get painted over. These two are from Pico Union, but Selena has definitely seen much better days

She used to be directly opposite from a mural of Princess Diana…I always wondered what exactly Lady Di was doing in the heart of the largest Central American population outside of Central America…she did get painted over years ago, and I still regret that I never got a shot of her. But they have painted this mural which is beautiful

I shan’t get started on the war or who exactly are the Americans fighting it, they’re all recruited from this neighborhood though, fucking recruitment centers in high schools, immoral is what it is.

And art etc? Check this thing out

What is it?? I have no idea…it looks like one of the forts I built with my brothers back in the day…much nicer though, we didn’t have access to that kind of material. I like building forts, how long has it been since I built a blanket fort in the middle of the living room? Might be fun to do, I’d take in a bottle of wine, lots of pillows and a couple of good novels and just chill…

Anyways, here’s my contribution, a little still life

Bet that kid is sad he ever forgot his toys and let me get my hands on them! Hope he comes back to collect them, nothing sadder than toys ownerless and unplayed with!

The Doors 40th

It was Wednesday, imagine, the Doors at the Whisky A Go Go again! I had my special VIP pass…here’s what the spot looks like, Sunset and San Vicente at the heart of the strip:

Tafarai and I waltzed past the people in the line, right up to the very large bouncer who looked up our names on the list, gave us wrstbands and opened up the red velvet rope…it was magic. We strolled in fashionably late, and grabbed some of the free booze being passed around by the waitresses. And there was Ray Manzarek keyboard genious, Robby Krieger on Guitar, John Densmore on the drums…John called us over, we’ve met a couple of times before and he came to our big action at the Morrison Hotel when we were forcing our way into the building. That day gave me a high I shall never forget! We met the band, they thanked us for the amazing job we were doing making Los Angeles a better place and preserving the rights of working folks to live in the center city, and they they went on stage and played and the place just irrupted…

No, wait, that was just what i wanted to happen! Except for having met John Densmore before…like Dougal from father Ted I sometimes have a hard time separating dreams from reality I’m afraid. We arrived late, really really late which generally isn’t a problem where you’re out on the strip but we missed the program. Partly due to lateness, but mostly because we were in the damn vip line for an hour and a half…in the words of the guy behind me, “a fucking vip line just ain’t what it used to be!” I lost a bit more of my innocence that day I’m afraid. It was good for people watching though I never recognize anyone having never had mtv in the 80’s. Here’s some faded rockstars, they were on the corner while I was taking the above picture so I got a surreptitious shot in, the guy on the left was going on and on about his friend the drummer from the Runaways, but I particularly liked the guy in the skinny pants, black and white tiger stripe top and rockstar mullet, they were about to head off to the Rainbow Room…all my stereotypes come to life:

The line was made up of industry folks all going on about famous people they had worked with, skinny girls in short skirts and too much makeup were cruising up and down trying to make friends, people who thought they were more important than the rest of us were trying to talk their way past the bouncer and making phone calls, two guys got arrested by the cops and were dragged off, Tafarai was checking the scores from the Clipper game and the progress of his fantasy teams, the real vip’s were getting let right in, a few more rockstars from back in the day wandered by in leather and/or spandex. Gilby Clarke, guitarist from Guns N Roses rolled up in his black mercedes…wouldn’t have recognized him but for the talkative guy in front of us who knew who people were, but sadly his wife was a real vip and he got in far before us. While at the very front I saw the white light guy married to Piper in Charmed, he couldn’t get his friends in which made me feel better, Robbie Krieger’s wife took about 5 minutes to get past the barrier even…but finally, we were in!

It’s a small place, must have been amazing back in the day! The vip’s were on the top level, clusters of very stylish folks talking importantly…that wasn’t so fun so we headed downstairs to be with the proletariat, here’s a view from the stairs:

You can see there’s no one playing :-(, but some classic doors was blasting over the sound system, and everyone downstairs was singing along and dancing…it was a very cool mix of people, Mexican families and punk kids and old hippies, Roadhouse blues came on and the place just went nuts. Here’s one of my favourite characters:

I could not tell you the whys and wherefores of the wizard costume, but it was very cool all the same. So it was Tafarai and I; he was my ride and sadly had to leave early to get the car back to his girlfriend. Why didn’t I drive damn it! I’ll tell you, it’s a small matter of a warrant I belive I have, a question of a small unpaid ticket but that’s a long story…anyways, since the Doors now all hate each other they were playing in different venues, so we decided to go down to Book Soup to catch Densmore but that was over, and the Cat Club where Ray was playing had another fucking long ass line in the face of which our vip wristbands were worthless so…we headed on home. So disappointing, I was so disappointed, but I suppose you can’t recpture the magic that was once the Doors…Jim Morrison dead and 40 years and a long acrimonious lawsuit later…seeing domingosiete the next night and being able to dance the night away was miles better, and I think perhaps I shall just forget about seeing my favourite bands from back in the day and let them live larger than life in my imagination…much the best place for them really as the current reality is a bit sad.

Seeing the Pogues live at the Wiltern Theatre

I fucking love the Pogues!  I have loved them since always and will love them forever and even if Shane MacGowan is a wreck who looks like he was hit by a truck, even if he looks twice as old as he should and has no teeth, even if he was drunk off his arse and frankly painful to watch between songs, even so…when he stood up in front of the mic with his cigarrette lit and sending blue clouds of smoke curling round him, the backlighting obscuring all faults and setting a golden halo through his unbrushed hair, his voice as gravelly and powerful as always and the band sounding fucking fantastic, well, I struggle to find words, there simply aren’t any.

Hommage done, on to the rest of the evening.  It was at the Wiltern, this cool old Art Deco theatre on Wilshire…some advice if you go and are in the back floor section, make sure you are either right in front or in back and whatever you do, do not stand directly under the edge of the balcony because cups full of various alcoholic beverages came plumetting over from time to time…we were right in front and I had a perfect view – the high heels helped with that cause they make me almost 6 feet tall though I pity the folks behind me and my poor feet at the end of an evening…

I went with Bev, who is both totally punk rock and eminently practical, I suppose the only explanation of such mad inconsistency is that she’s Canadian, and the fact that both of her parents are from Newfoundland explains even more.  She couldn’t quite get over how old all of them looked so didn’t enjoy it as much as I did…I was sad too but more cause I think it’s a damn shame that rock stars can’t age while in all other kinds of music age just means you’re that much better.  Look at the blues, I don’t think you can even take a blues singer seriously if they’re under 30 or even 40, and all the greats are these old men and women roaring into the microphone with every year of hard living and heartache sounding in every fiber of their voice.  Still, Mr. MacGowan was in eminent danger of strangling himself with the microphone cord, or possibly giving himself a black eye, as he swang it around his head during the instrumental bit of the Turkish Song of the Damned…and he was knocking the mic stand over and attempting to catch it rather in the way you would do if you were drunk and trying to prove you weren’t quite as drunk as everyone thought and yes, he did  knock the whole thing over more than once and yes, he was drunk of his arse and yes, I did find it a bit sad.  But as I said before, who could care because when he was singing it was magical…second encore was a rainy night in soho, and people tried to hold their lighters up but security went rushing about to put them out, that was amusing.  Third encore was fairytale in New York, dunno who the chick was singing but all this white confetti came down as they danced at the end.  The woman next to me was hilarious after it was over, imagine the broad California valley accent, and exact words were “Oh my God!  That was fucking amazing!  Oh my God, yes! yes! yes!  That was fucking amazing, Oh my God!  Yes! Yes! YES!”  and so on and so on, she was clearly having a “when harry met sally” moment.  Bit embarassing to listen to.

One of the best parts of the evening though, was Ollin opening!  They are a fantastic but still not well known homegrown East Los band, and turns out they were playing a gig and the Pogues were there and actually invited them to open the last night in LA, what an incredible break for them!  Last I’d seen them was a good while ago, and Bev last saw them in an Inglewood bowling alley…they were even better than I remembered  though the crowd could have been more excited for them…it was not exactly the punk ska cumbia xicano crowd I suppose, but Ollin brought out all these tunes half Irish and half mexican and played in honour of the San Patricios…They came up on stage with the Pogues during the last song, I have never seen such frenetic happiness!  They were even racing their fucking harp back and forth behind the band, and their honorary Boyle Heights Irish band member fell down on stage and threw his shoe up in the air and everyone was hitting themselves in the head with these silver trays and then throwing the bent remnants out into the crowd…insanity and a perfect ending to an incredible evening!

LA for Parents II

Now, when your parents are in town, it always pays to take them to the Getty musuem, it’s beautiful, impressive, and best of all, free!  It sits on a mountain top in the Santa Monica hills, between all the wealth of Bel Air and Brentwood, to the west you can see the ocean, and to the east all of LA stretching out before you.  It was a beautiful day today, though I was wishing for socks and shoes…my chanclas will have to be traded in for the year I think, that’s always a sad sad parting.

Anyways, here is the getty from the gardens:

Built of travertine from italy, the blocks are hung from a steel frame…took the architectural tour with my folks of course, I never take the tours normally but this was worth it I think.  We spent half the time just wandering around the outside…look at this thing!

what is she doing?  What?

As you go in there’s this famous statue by Giacometti which I like a great deal, it’s disturbing of course, I’m not sure if humanity can really be reduced to this but it makes you think, it’s like reading Sartre or Camus and staring at a harsh reality and wondering what it is that animates us to be so much more than this…I think we are.

Mr. John Paul Getty did not buy this of course, it was acquired only recently… Mr. Getty preferred Monets and french porcelein and period furniture like this:

Is it a bed? A couch? a bed? a couch?  It does look like fun however, they shouldn’t cordon off enormous monstrosities like this, I would pay serious money to jump on it!  Or kip down for a night with a bottle of wine and a big-screen plasma tv (unless I was allowed company.  Definitely room for two up there!).  The guard did not seem bribable however, he didn’t even think I was funny, he was like one of those London guards who keep a straight face no matter what you do to them… There was a whole set of pink china as well, I suppose it was immensely valuable but uglier stuff you couldn’t imagine, had lots of pictures of silly courting couples in rural scenes…but around that time my dad developed some bad gas, he doesn’t like china at all.  Anyways, he’s allowed since he is missing most of his colon, but it is not pleasant for any of us, less so for those not related to him who don’t know he’s missing most of his colon.  We headed back out to the open air….

There was a Van Gogh – Irises, he is my favourite painter…a nice Degas, a Brueghal showing the sermon on the mount with all classes of tiny little people going about their business in an amazing and amusing way…it’s quite a nice museum actually.  We missed the drawings sadly, too much to see entirely.  Still, the place is highly recommended.

LA for Parents

Why is it that so many of my favourite places in Los Angeles are restaurants? I love eating out and there are so many incredible places here…last night took the folks out to Phillipes to cap off the day, it’s one of the oldest places in LA and you can walk there from my house, and we did! It’s famous for french-dipped roast beef or lamb sandwiches and deli sides, here’s my dad with our fantastic tray of food and some of the decor:

That is my Heineken, I must confess. And here’s me and mum after the meal – you can see the counter behind us, jars with purple pickled eggs, the waitresses with their 50’s uniforms, the sawdust on the floor (only place I know of has kept that particular tradition!), and the crazy man behind us on the left…that is indeed a large Bible on the table in front of him, he had a strong southern accent and I could swear he was wearing eyeliner and a formal suit…characters abound at this place! Ussually it is packed to overflowing, but Sunday evenings right before it closes seems to be the time for short lines and a table to yourself, take note!

So this morning we ate breakfast at Happy Tom’s in Echo Park, it’s yummy but not terribly photogenic. Then we went to the La Brea tar pits, but first, on the way, guess what we passed on Alvarado! Check it out:

Banksy in my own scenic stomping ground! Woo-hoo! It is a true tragedy that he was here while I was in Scotland, I was enjoying my brave facade of actually being Banksy myself, that story’s blown though.

So, La Brea tar pits, they are very cool! They have skeletons like this:

It’s a mastadon…nice, would like to have seen those in the flesh. To it’s right is a camel…who knew there used to be camels here in LA? They also have a display of over 1,500 skulls belonging to something called the Dire wolf…the most plentiful creature in the pits so I suppose not much needs to be said about why they are now extinct.

The display was well done, but the skulls remind me of soccer cleats, I cannot say why…they have sharper teeth however, and do not come in a range of colours. I also found out that the latin name of the saber-tooth tiger is smilodon…I don’t think it’s ironic exactly, it’s just funny. To me.

After the tar pits, and with a fine appetite we headed over to San Pedro Ports O’Call, where you head into the fish market and get to choose from a selection of recently caught fish looking like this:

They don’t look so tasty now, but then you take them up to the grill where they clean them, and will grill or fry them up for you with potatotes and vegies and you end up with a tray of food like this:

It’s not fancy, but is absolutely the best fish possible, unless you’re eating fish you just caught yourself, and yes, that is garlic bread! So yum! I admit, I used to be among those who hesitated in facing a fish entire with its little eye staring up at me, but I have never in my life smelled or tasted a better fish than this so have no problems now, and at $10 a person you really cannot compare this place to anywhere else. There are also bands of travelling mariachis singing rancheras and love songs to the sweet sounds of the guitar and accordeon, and you are right on the water. Granted it’s the port and not incredibly scenic, but interesting! and there are pelicans! Look how cool they are:

And here are me, mum, and dad, happy, full, and about to roll off the pier and head back home…

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70th Floor

hat’s where I was, 70th floor of the tallest building in LA, I love pro bono corporate lawyers! During our meeting (5 hours of meeting, and I can barely sit still for 2, it was a sad test of arg’s superpowers though some superb doodling was accomplished) I actually looked down upon helicopters as they flew about their business. If it had not been smoggy I might, just might, have seen the ocean. I did see my house, look, here it is as you face north from downtown! I pointed out some of the sights as well

And the view south into smogginess…

My office is somewhere on the far top left in lovely South C, didn’t feel it was worth a red arrow! I bike through here every day, but I now know I am invisible from such a height…I suppose this perspective makes it much easier to really screw over poor people…Sadly, thus also die my dreams of an executive looking down one day and falling in love with me from afar…I shall simply have to work harder at getting hit by a jaguar, you wouldn’t think it’d be so hard given how poorly their owners drive!

God is All Around

Took a little walk from the office to 21st and maple yesterday to take photos of rats and roaches – my favourite part of the job!  The good news is that I get to take photos of other things, I love this neighbourhood.  If you need a bit of religion this is the place to come, just walking down to the local liquor store can be a religious experience.

Juan Diego and la Virgen

Ghetto boyz tags as well, those are some active kids! Brave as well, I’ve seen them out on the street spray paint cans in hand in full daylight.

La virgen otra vez

Christ makes an appearance from time to time as well

And my favourite

The owners of El Principio, “The Begining,” are definitely among the faithful.  it’s not just stores though, regular folks do things like this…

If anyone needs an apron, I can get you one, just let me know.  We have hardware supplies too, with folks selling fresh cilantro, nopales etc every couple of blocks as well, yum.

It’s an amazing place LA.

death

——–

Impossibly heart-breakingly achingly sad…sadness sits as pain in my stomach and behind my eyes.  I hate viewings and funerals and guns.  I hate for the people I love to suffer like this, what do you say to someone who has lost their son?  Think i might cry after all, embarassing thing to happen at work.

In the desert when I was little I used to watch the sunset every night, watched the light dancing through creasote and across rock, the orange sun sink down red behind the mountains, the sky would turn blue and pink like the inside of a shell, the stars would come out one by one to burn so close to my face I could almost reach up and take them with my fingers.  You are always something bigger and greater and wiser than yourself when standing before them…head thrown back, proud, alive.

You can’t see them in LA, they’re something I imagined.  Like I imagined peace and quiet and content.  Is there a world without helicopters and sirens and violence and poverty and addiction and pain?  Sometimes it seems that everyone is broken, carrying shards of themselves about in their hands, razor edges that cut others, constant collisions of broken glass.  Joel Zuniga shot in the head on a Sunday morning Compton Street.

Tomorrow I might return from the darkside.