Re-embracing the weird that Los Angeles offers from time to time, Jen and I went to see Crispin Glover perform last night. Oh my, the guy who played George McFly has decided to remain outside the Hollywood mainstream.
First, he did a reading from several books that he has published. This was more of a spoken word performance, complete with slideshow of photos and illustrations from the books. Like everything else this night, it is hard to describe. Each book (i.e. a guide on rat catching for boarding schools) seemed to be old found materials that were edited and reimagined by Glover to tell disjointed stream of consciousness stories. This was the enjoyable performance.
Next, Glover did a screening of his film "What is it?" To call this challenging experimental cinema is an understatement. Acting credits like "Dueling Demi-God Auteur and The young man's inner psyche", for example. I had heard about how the cast was almost entirely people with down syndrome playing characters without that affliction, which was as disorienting as was intended. I was also prepared for nazi Shirley Temple as mother figure. What was unexpectedly jarring: the naked woman in a monkey mask giving a handjob to a man with cerebral palsy lounging in a clam shell and the near constant salt burning of snails.
There was a question and answer session afterwards. Glover would ramble for at least 5 minutes per question, but this seemed to preemptively answer other questions at the same time that he must get all the time at other screenings. This put the film in some context, as he explained that one intention was to explore various concepts that the corporate film industry shuns because they wouldn't be profitable. It also took 9 and a half years to complete.
As Jen pointed out this morning, it is not a good sign that you need a Q&A to help justify why people should not walk out on your film. Some people did, of course. Yet, there is certain art that tries to push as many buttons as possible. That we were still discussing it the next day means that it succeeded on some level.
I think we'll skip the sequel he is debuting at Sundance next month, though. "It's Fine. Everything is Fine" was described in the Q&A as an exploration of the sexuality denied the actor with cerebral palsy while locked away in a nursing home. One handjob was enough.
Dude, if I were New York or DC or, hell, even Boston, I'd be scratching my head right now...
Here's another sign that there is sometimes too much to do in Los Angeles. Jen and I only recently went to a Forever Hollywood movie screening, this past Saturday at the invite of a classmate of hers. This is an outdoor film series in a Hollywood cemetary. Thankfully, the screening is on a lawn free of tombstones, because that night's film was the original 1978 Dawn of the Dead. I hadn't seen this version before... it's decidedly superior to the 2004 remake.
And, you can picnic! I am definitely from Puritanland, because I was nervous about bringing beer with us right until we saw all the cases in the hands of the people in line in front of us.
Sadly, Dawn of the Dead was the last film of this season (because it gets too cold in Southern California's October for outdoor screenings?). We will have to ...return.
Now, we are a few steps closer to a Red line subway extension into the Westside of LA. That's a very happy thing.
However, Metroblogging LA posted a wonderful "concept" rendering of what could be... and a tear rolled into my beard. Oh, to live in that alternate universe.
Phooey. The wonderful food porn blog, The Great Taco Hunt, posted recently about the passage of a new LA city council ordinance that will destroy the time-honored tradition of the taco trucks permanently parked on the street all over town.
Effective July 23, 2006, "catering trucks" will be limited to one hour of parking in commercial locations (and a half hour at residential locations) "for the purpose of dispensing victuals" (hee hee). Then, they have to move at least a half mile away and can't return to the same location for a full hour.
Reading the relevant legalese (here and here [PDFs]) I can't be sure that this doesn't effect trucks like the tasty one at the bodega down the street from home, too, since that one is parked in the store's parking lot.
I kinda agree with Jen's assessment that this is part of the current backlash against the brown people... So I say again: Phooey!
Yippee! Take that, Houston!
LA's the Capital of Dirty Air Again (LA Times)
Artist: Ice Cube
Album: The Predator
Song: It Was a Good Day
Typed by: OHHLA Webmaster DJ Flash
Break 'em off somethin
Just wakin up in the mornin gotta thank God
I don't know but today seems kinda odd
No barkin from the dog, no smog
And momma cooked a breakfast with no hog (damn)
I got my grub on, but didn't pig out
Finally got a call from a girl I wanna dig out
(Whassup?) Hooked it up for later as I hit the do'
Thinkin will I live, another twenty-fo'
I gotta go cause I got me a drop top
And if I hit the switch, I can make the ass drop
Had to stop, at a red light
Lookin in my mirror and not a jacker in sight
And everything is alright
I got a beep from Kim, and she can fuck all night
Called up the homies and I'm askin y'all
Which park, are y'all playin basketball?
Get me on the court and I'm trouble
Last week fucked around and got a triple double
Freakin niggaz everyway like M.J.
I can't believe, today was a good day (shit!)
Drove to the pad and hit the showers
Didn't even get no static from the cowards
Cause just yesterday them fools tried to blast me
Saw the police and they rolled right past me
No flexin, didn't even look in a nigga's direction
as I ran the intersection
Went to $hort Dog's house, they was watchin Yo! MTV Raps
What's the haps on the craps?
Shake 'em up, shake 'em up, shake 'em up, shake 'em
Roll 'em in a circle of niggaz and watch me break 'em
with the seven, seven-eleven, seven-eleven
Seven even back do' Lil' Joe
I picked up the cash flow
Then we played bones, and I'm yellin domino
Plus nobody I know got killed in South Central L.A.
Today was a good day (shit!)
Left my nigga's house paid (what)
Picked up a girl been tryin to fuck since the 12th grade
It's ironic, I had the brew she had the chronic
The Lakers beat the Supersonics
I felt on the big fat fanny
Pulled out the jammy, and killed the punanny
And my dick runs deep, so deep
So deep put her ass to sleep
Woke her up around one
She didn't hesitate, to call Ice Cube the top gun
Drove her to the pad and I'm coastin
Took another sip of the potion hit the three-wheel motion
I was glad everything had worked out
Dropped her ass off and then chirped out
Today was like one of those fly dreams
Didn't even see a berry flashin those high beams
No helicopter looking for a murder
Two in the mornin got the Fatburger
Even saw the lights of the Goodyear Blimp
And it read, "Ice Cube's a pimp" (yeah)
Drunk as hell but no throwin up
Half way home and my pager still blowin up
Today I didn't even have to use my A.K.
I got to say it was a good day (shit!)
Hey wait, wait a minute Pooh, stop this shit
What the fuck I'm thinkin about?
Jen and I were in the living room of our apartment this evening when I got my earthquake. It was a measily magnitude 3.0, but the epicenter was only about two miles away (right at the Santa Monica regional airport, it seems).
The cat freaked and jumped off the couch, my glass fell off the end table, and a few CD cases shifted around. Otherwise, there was the nice rolling bang.
Jen and I looked around confused for a moment, but I was finally able to raise my hands and exclaim, "Earthquake!"
Jen and I did a little road tripping up north to the Gilroy Garlic Festival. We drove north Friday up the 5 to Gilroy, just south of San Jose. There was a wildfire on the way up, thankfully on the other side of the highway. We camped at Henry W. Coe State Park. Owen joined us camping Friday night and Saturday at the festival. Despite the heavy heat, and signs warning against campfires during the summer, some idiots did burn fires at their campsites on both nights.
Yep, this otherwise serene hillside state park has a bit of an "aggressive" raccoon problem. There were signs up on the pit toilets warning campers to store food in their cars and such. We didn't think too much of it, but did move open bags of chips and jerky to the trunk on Friday night. Owen heard at least one protracted (and failed) attempt to open our borrowed cooler that night. On Saturday, not long after returning from the day's garlic and local cheer, Jen and I walked up to the modern toilets at the vistor's center that promised lights and fewer spiders. On our way there, a guy who I assume was a native northern Californian (scruffy beard, no shirt, ponytail) was trying to dispose of trash and was spooked by a raccoon that popped out of the nearby plastic recycling container. Jen and I were discussing this event when we returned to our campsite. I playfully shined the flashlight around looking for raccoons, and... Hey! There's one! On our picnic table. It jumped down, but then spent some time sizing us up before finally slinking off into the grass. I was a dummy and had left the jerky out. I am convinced that this same thief tried to come back for more later in the evening. I guess we were an easy mark at that point. We spotted a mama 'coon and three coonlings browsing around our car before we huddled in the tent for protection/sleep. I was woken a few times by the sounds of coon fighting in the pitchblack night. Fun.
But, we were there for garlic and weird food. There was plenty of both Saturday, once we fought the traffic in to the parking lot and entered the festival. After starting off with garlic bread and scampi, we moved on to the goodies. The three of us went to a cajun kiosk and shared the fried gator tail, frogs legs, and rattlesnake. I am embarrassed to point out that I liked the garlic ice cream, especially because it was a free sample. Much garlic all around.
Owen had to get back home, so Jen and I roamed the town of Gilroy for a little while. We crashed a local watering hole and found a friendly bartender. It's good to know that locals go to the garlic festival, too, although not every year. This year's temperatures were close to 90 °F, but that was considered better than recent years. He also used to work for Budweiser in the beer tents, and told stories of how the alcohol content in event kegs is lower than normal and the one year that they emptied close to 700 kegs over 3 days.
Sunday, we took the time for a drive down the 101, stopping in San Luis Obispo for a late lunch. This little college town was fun, and deserves another visit. They had a version of the public art animal theme with trout. One memorable example was both obviously and really painted by an elementary school class. Jen pointed out that we can turn anything into beer tourism, and indeed, we visited the local brewpub for SLO Brewing. Sadly, they are closing operations at the end of this month...
Traffic on the 101 from Santa Barbara on south reminded me why we don't take that route very often. Stop and go crawling for hours, man. This was not helped by not one, not two, but three multiple car accidents on the way home.
When we finally plan a trip to the avocado festival in Carpenteria, also north of LA on the 101, we're taking Amtrak.
Yesterday, Los Angeles voted in the first Latino mayor since 1872.
This is great, especially since the current mayor is so nonexistent in my LA experience that I only know him from his political scandals and a brief vision of him waving as I starting to run 26.2 miles with approximately 20 billion other idiots back in March.
I must gripe, though, about voter turnout. The mayoral campaign was a bit tiring, and yesterday was simply a runoff vote after the field was narrowed to two candidates a few months ago. Still, the LA Times is reporting appalling numbers of only about 440,000 total votes. Sheesh!
Jen said it first, but there is something quite nice about walking across the Brooklyn bridge on Wednesday and driving into Death Valley two days later. The modern marvel of air travel!
We sadly found ourselves in the middle of the biggest tourist season for Death Valley wildflowers in recorded history. The national park had its biggest fall/winter rainfall in the 94 years of recorded weather for the region. I've read accounts of 14,000 visitors in the past month. I had to use my car horn three times in the middle of nowhere, which is just plain wrong.
The flowers weren't even the best part. Sure, yellow, white and purple blooms in a desert are interesting, but the terrain changes were mindboggling. There's Badwater, a salt lake 282 feet below sea level (lowest elevation in the USA), Golden Canyon for hiking and rock scrambling, the utterly bizarre salt formations at Devil's Golf Course, and sand dunes that unfortunately wouldn't sing for us. Perhaps it was too "wet" at the moment... (I have plenty of photos, but I'm being lazy)
We even stumbled on a decent microbrewery, Indian Wells, on the way home. They make a pretty good red ale that is wonderfully cheap at Trader Joe's...
Definitely must return to the desert soon.
I was intrigued enough to want to actually see the new Ten Commandments musical. Jen was not. I found a buddy to go with me. He got called out of town on science business. Jen got to go anyway.
Did I mention that I inadvertantly bought tickets for "premiere night"?
After our usual parking for free in Hollywood kung fu, we approach the Kodak Theater on foot. Isn't this the place where they do the Oscars? Why is it in a mall?
But I digress. There was a huge crowd out front. We get to jump the line because I already had tickets in hand, but that means that we're propelled onto the red carpet. Bright lights and camera people probably wondering who we were and taking photos anyway. Jen heard some paparazzi or another call out for Andy Dick. I was too blinded and just wanted to get the heck out of there.
Inside, we adjusted a bit to the madness of the lobby. I settled back a bit to do some hollywood star-peeping. I recognized the senator from X-Men, Bruce Davison, and James Avery and Joseph Marcell, the uncle and butler from Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Jen caught sight of Gary Coleman before I did. According to various "fashion photos", there were plenty other celebrities but they hid well. I remember Lucy Lawless's crazy flowerprint red dress, but didn't recognize her at the time. I
The show itself was actually quite good. There was a focus on a brotherly rivalry between Ramses and Moses. Most of the God stuff was incidental or downplayed. The bush burned but didn't speak, for instance. I fear the "dance" number for the orgiastic worship of the golden calf might keep this from being a family musical in
Disney Square Broadway.
Almost forgot...after the first act, the theater gave us new seats. Somehow, we had the luck of moving from Mezzanine 3 (top most nosebleed seats) where we had excellent views of the dance numbers to Parterre Center, only 20 rows back from the stage. The Glitterati around us where probably confused where we came from, especially the large man in suit with his two dates next to me and the french women behind us talking about their latest video shoot.
Only in LA.
Who can really argue with that? Not, apparently, this unutterably odd South African Gay and Lesbian Portal.
Won't anyone think of the children?
Still no news to be found after extensive searching online related to the huge fire near Overland and Venice that Jen partially witnessed yesterday. Only maybe four or five blocks from our apartment building, it brought in over six fire trucks and was supposedly at a furniture factory. Something go boom, since the surrounding block was closed to street traffic as late as 7pm.
Jen and I took a brief road trip down to San Diego this past weekend. We've done the drive before, so it can be pleasant. Sadly, there are so many drivers in southern California these days that I actually was slowed to a stop in the freakin' carpool lane Sunday night. Oy.
Much rambling follows... :)
Saturday was nice. We drove down in the morning with little incident. We did stop once in Encinitas on the way for our trademark weird public art visit. Some artist has turned the yard surrounding his studio into a tribute to Rock and Rool music, with strange murals, folkart mosaics with broken mirrors and marbles, and lots of cut-out heads of music stars. It was trippy.
Our hotel room in the Super 8 on "Hotel Circle" wasn't ready, so we drove into downtown and parked fairly close to the waterfront for pretty cheap. What followed was a leisurely bar crawl. First, we stopped in the Yard House (20 minutes after it opened for the day) for a set of pints from San Diego local Ballast Point. We then made our way to the Karl Strauss Brewpub. Good lunch sandwiches and better beer: I got the 5 ounce sampler set of their six regular brews, and we made sure to also try out their abbey-style Red (super yummy) and their unfilter hefeweizen (almost like Germany).
We left and made our way to the downtown pier area. After a detour into the USS Midway aircraft carrier floating museum, we stopped at the Kansas City Bar-BQ, famous as the film location for "the sleazy bar scene in Top Gun". It was all we could ask for from a tourist trap.
After a rejuvinating stop at Cafe Lulu where we learned that the Sneaker Pimps last album is actually good, we made use of our Mug Club memberships at Rock Bottom. I finally qualified for my fifth visit "prize", although this turned out to be just a free pint glass. They used to give out gift certificates. Oh well. The stout was good. After tasty Cal-mex food that came back to haunt us a little later, we called it a night.
Sunday was more low key. We spent most of the day at Balboa Park: open parkland and a concentration of museums. We stuck to the free stuff mostly, like the desert cactus garden right next to the rose garden, and the world's largest outdoor pipe organ.
We left San Diego and meandered through parts of La Jolla, the sea-side suburb to the north that's home to the University of California, San Diego. Lots of upscale window shopping and good views of the Pacific. There is even a section of rocks known for their good sun-bathing...for sea lions, anyway. Nifty.
Then a hellish ride home on the evil freeways.
Oh, and we were celebrating the tenth anniversary of our relationship. To commemorate, we bought mood rings. I annoy Jen with how often mine just hangs around purple (calm) :)
I finally made it to the New Beverly Cinema last night, a cheaply priced ($6, dollar off with student ID... Woo!) theater that does the revival-type thing that I remember so fondly from Boston. Often its a two-for-one double bill. We have the Coolidge Corner theater in Brookline, and the Brattle in Harvard Square for the same idea, although those are both on public transit and I had to drive to the Beverly. At least I have friends who always think to car pool!
Last night's escape from finals studying was fittingly a duo of recent zombie movies. First there was the usual action movie hoopla of the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. I saw the original Romero movie a really long time ago.
The second movie was 28 Days Later, a bit more thoughtful take on the genre, with examination of biological weapons and depths of human depravity mixed in. I expected something different, since this was directed by the guy that did Trainspotting. Fun.
You may have heard that Reagan finally died. I think it was on the news briefly last week.
Today, walking into campus armed with two free undergraduate cafeteria passes (long story), Jen and I notice that a new sign has proclaimed the new hospital under construction at the south of campus the "Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center." Maybe this sign was up before last week, but I sure don't remember it.
It turns out that this naming was "announced" this in April 2000. This is the first I've heard about, despite working right next door for over a year. (UCLA Today: New Hospital to be Named for Reagan)
Never mind that this president has a horrible legacy on healthcare (AIDS in particular) or that his domestic and foreign policy is second only to the disasters of our current big boy. Let's name a bunch of stuff after him anyway.
I hearby christen the Ronald Reagan Memorial Big Toe on my left foot. I am currently accepting donations.
Or, should that be the right foot?
Jen and I went to our second show taping last night. It was essentially a free night of stand-up comedy, filmed as "National Lampoon Live" with the younger not-household-name type of entertainers. There were six comics, including John Diresta from FX's "Trash to Cash" strange redecorating show that I've seen once on TV, and the runner-up from "Last Comic Standing." I only vaguely remember a show by that name from earlier in the summer, but I wasn't watching much TV then, either.
Most of the audience appeared to be hired from an extras company. I never really thought about it before, but that tactic for filling a studio audience" is probably more common than most people realize. The show tapings were advertised around UCLA's campus, though, so we just showed up.
The humor was typically rauchy but good, and it's nice to see that it's acceptable to make fun of GW Bush again in pop culture. No idea when or where this will air on TV, though.
I received my first telephone marketing survey call today that was entirely conducted in Spanish until I pointed out that I didn't understand a word.
I noticed this morning that there was a small (3.8) quake in Southern California last night. According to a site I found elsewhere this morning, Recent Earthquakes in California, there have been 275 in California and Nevada in the past week. All were below 4.0 on the Richter scale, and I certainly haven't noticed.
However, my cat Tabitha was a particular shade of cranky last night, and has been that bad only a few times since we moved here. She's a cranky loner animal to begin with, and displayed similar behavior in Boston on countless occasions.
Now she just has a convenient excuse to be a brat.
Thursday brought Jen and I to an outstanding free concert in Santa Monica. Santa Monica Pier has hosted live music every Thursday night this summer. This week's three bands: AciDa from Argentina, providing trip-hop in a good Massive Attack type of way, Sidestepper, contributing drum 'n' bass to the night, and Los Amigos Invisibles. I remember my invisible funky friends from a tour in, like, 1998 when they opened for Soul Coughing (RIP). A few years later, Los Amigos are just as good as the not-so-subtly lewd funk as they were back then, but now sing in English a little too. I'm still scared of what some of the Spanish lyrics on their first album might be going on about.
Now, contrast that fun with the segment this morning on the local ABC morning show. A cosmetic surgeon debuted a new chemical that works like collagen but doesn't need replacement injections as often by injecting two happy female volunteers in the face on live television.
LA still makes my brain hurt, but at least there's some good with the bad.