Friday, May 29, 2009

30 and Okay

I turned 30 on Friday. I started this post on Friday, but ended up on the phone with American Express requesting they cover the cost of a cracked light on a rental car that I didn't cause. I think as a full -fledged "college will never happen again" adult, I'll be doing a lot more of those "a lot of money is at stake" chores. I also spent the day moisturizing my neck and popping calcium supplements like Tic Tacs. So now it's 11 am on a Monday and I'm sitting at my plastic Ikea dining room table covered in whatever tablecloth that was on sale at Bed, Bath and Beyond, blogging, jobless and 30. I spent the last few days taking a mental inventory of my life right now. I'm still wound-licking a past life I miss: friends, bars that don't clear out at 1 am, leaving the responsibility of transportation in the hands of the MTA or a cab driver, a city that forces you to tolerate the sights, smells, moods, and wavering mental and emotional stability of those around you. I'm lonely and isolated at times. I feel like I'm floating around this town without any roots . My four months in LA must be an alternate reality and real life will kick in once I land in JFK for a visit. Plastic furniture, unemployment, and maybe a minor self-absorbed existential crisis aside, everything is actually okay. Since I moved to LA, I've never felt more creative, focused, productive and excited about the future. And my dishes have never been cleaner. Maybe that's 30. Making yourself uncomfortable enough in order to find a little happiness. Speaking of uncomfortable, this post makes me really uncomfortable. Perhaps an Acme Anvil will fall through my ceiling and onto my Mac Book right now and I won't be able to post this. No? Okay.

California Field Trips #2 & Camera Phone Files #6: Best Tribute Band in Santa Barbara

Last weekend we went to Santa Barbara. I didn't take a lot of pictures. Imagine a Nordstrom in a Spanish Revival building, that's State Street in Santa Barbara. I absolutely love Santa Barbara and I'll do anything to live next to Oprah. We just didn't have the chance to stray from the beaten path of mall stores and restaurants. We did see a saw a flyer in front of a music venue, Velvet Jones (sounds like a hand job technique) for a tribute band, Petty Cash. They cover Tom Petty and Johnny Cash. I Google-imaged "Petty Cash Tribute Band" and all I found was got a promotion from a local radio station contest called "Petty Cash." I imagine you can win $50 when you call in during a Tom Petty song. I don't know if the metal box and the pissy executive assistant in a bad pantsuit comes with the $50. I did find Petty Cash's profile on GigMasters. The band is dressed entirely in black. A tribute band takes their dedication a step further than a cover band by dressing up as the band members and taking on their personas. I guess they thought it best to commit to Cash's wardrobe only. You don't want to dilute your branding with too many visual choices. I imagine they learned their lesson while working on tribute band circuit and watching other bands stretch themselves too thin. Too bad, Bell Biv Devo-te, a tribute band to Bell Biv Devoe and Contemporary Christian artist, Michael W. Smith had promise.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pitch to Bravo: The Real Housewives of Echo Park

A cast member of The Real Housewives of Echo Park.
While trolling around for spec commercials, director reels, and student film auditions, I found a casting notice for the upcoming The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills:
Evolution Media, producers of "The Real Housewives of Orange County," is casting its next show in the Beverly Hills area. We are seeking upscale, affluent women living fabulous and glamorous lives. Bravo is looking for outgoing, exciting, strong, focused women who reside in and around the Beverly Hills area that want to share their lives. We are looking for women who are lively and energetic, with defined opinions and views. Our featured women should have busy lives, be involved with the community, have a strong work ethic, and an active social calendar. Most importantly, they should be enjoying the good life. The women, significant others and families must be open to sharing their experiences with the producers and the television audience.
I think it's time we see some real Real Housewives. So I'd like to pitch to Bravo a new series, The Real Housewives of Echo Park. So far the cast is me, the nice Mormon mom next door and the three elderly Jehovah Witness Mexican ladies that knock on our door every weekend. Maybe we'll add a barista from a coffeehouse on Sunset. Our big charity project can be cleaning up the plastic bags left by the guy that lives in the RV down the street. Or finding an actual home for the guy that lives in the RV down the street. Instead of Botox parties, I can host Queen Helene Cocoa Butter stretch mark treatment parties. I imagine long afternoons of Jesus candle shopping with Rosalita, Alameda, Gaspara and Jen and followed by a ladies lunch at the pupuseria next to the auto body repair shop. There might be little to no actual conflict considering the language barrier. I might have to carry the Pinot Grigio/girl drink drinking load for all of us. These are all small prices to pay for a dose of reality on Reality television.

Monday, May 25, 2009

California Field Trips #1: San Francisco and Half Moon Bay

A crappy shot of the bottom of Lombard Street.
A shot from the Thomas Fogarty Winey. I think Stanford and Palo Alto are somewhere down there. Thomas Fogarty Winery. Thomas Fogarty made millions putting his name on heart transplant patents and now his name is on a winery.
The Ritz-Carlton at Half Moon Bay
Alex at the Ritz-Carlton at Half Moon Bay
The beginning of May, I went with Alex to San Francisco and Half Moon Bay to a business conference. Here's some pics!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Camera Phone Files #5: This has to be a rental?!

Yes, this is a Gulden Spicy Brown Mustard colored Ford Mustang convertible. I snapped this while stopped at a red light, but this douche was on his cell the entire mile I was behind him. This has to be a rental, right? If you rent a car near the airport in this town you end up with either a PT Cruiser or a Ford Mustang. I've driven both while visiting LA. So if no one chooses to purchase a Ford Mustang anymore, certainly no one would choose this color, right?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Brief Guide to LA #1

Okay, so I have knack for coming off more negative than intended. There's a lot of great places we've been enjoying. Every weeks that passes, I'm freaking out less and having more fun. I'd like to introduce Part One of "Laura's Very Brief and Limited Guide to LA." I'll continue to add to it as the months go by. I would love to hear about your faves!
Favorite Restaurants
  • Duke's. It's right off the PCH in Malibu. Wrap around windows facing the ocean. It's amazing. Mel Gibson got shitfaced at Moonshadows down the street before his infamous ant-Semitic tirade. OMG, the Pepperdine boys that valet your car...
  • Masa. It's a bakery and restaurant in Echo Park. I think they're from Chicago. So the food is super carb-y and the portions are huge and the staff is great. OMG, the bread...
  • Yang Chow. Chinese in Chinatown. Great Slippery Shrimp, cheap bottles of Sauvignon Blanc. OMG, Betty White autographed headshot on the wall.
Favorite Splurges
  • Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge. I went there with Katina, Sara and Baron. I had $832 glass of wine. I felt like I was there to meet Dominick Dunne and laugh about good ole' days when Liz and Richard would smash bottles of Scotch over each others' heads and laugh and laugh and laugh. And the waiters are very pleasant even though you're wearing Old Navy rubber flip flops. OMG, the hotel lobby...
  • Tower Bar at Sunset Tower Hotel. I went there with Katie in December to stalk Jennifer Aniston and John Mayer. They weren't there and now that I think about, I think the host thought we were a couple. I'm psyched for birthday dinner there. The art deco decor is reminiscent of 50's and 60's LA. The views of LA are amazing. OMG, the oysters..
Favorite Bars
  • El Prado. Right across from Masa in Echo Park. I guess it qualifies as New York-y because there's a brick wall. It's super cozy, low key, great wood bar and dim lighting. The bartenders play LPs. Their beer menu is all microbrews or craft beers and is new every week. Great wine list also. OMG, there's olives...
  • City Sip. Also in Echo Park. Great wine bar that teaches classes. You can order a flight of wines. The menu is great. OMG, the chorizo platter...
  • The Must Bar is another great wine bar that's downtown. OMG, roasted brussel sprouts with applewood bacon...
  • Red Lion Tavern. Ancient, ancient old man German bar in Silver Lake. The carpet smells like mildew. We talked with a great, fun couple about how we're basically in the Regal Beagle from Three's Company. OMG, the potato pancakes are the size of chargers.
  • The Drawing Room. In Los Feliz. It's as pretty close to a Williamsburg bar as you're gonna get. Red vinyl, cheap Pabst, NYU grads. It's fun when you're with a crowd and it's one of your last stops. OMG...We saw Chris Burke, the actor that played Corky on Life Goes On drinking vodka cranberries there.
Favorite Walking Areas
  • Franklin Village. Tiny little area of Franklin Ave sort of in between Los Feliz and Hollywood. UCB, cute bars and restaurants, bookstores, great houses!
On The To-Do List
  • The Varnish. Speakeasy style bar that just opened downtown. You enter from the back of a deli, Cole's. I know everyone hates on downtown and it's easy to do, but I kinda like it. I go to the 24 Hour Fitness on Flower Street with the other temps and receptionists trying to get through the summer in their Old Navy tankinis. It's just great to walk around surrounded by tall buildings. Downtown LA kind of feels like Chicago to me.
  • Tiki Ti. Hole in the wall cocktail joint in Silver Lake first recommended to me by frequent LA business trip-er friend, Jim. OMG, click on the link. Yes, that's the Magnum PI theme. I'm ashamed we haven't been here yet. Alright, we now have Memorial Day plans.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

LA Field Trips #6: Dodger Stadium

Alex and I saw the Dodgers play the Mets last night. The Mets lost. After Ryan Church couldn't find a base the night before, I was a bad fair -weather fan and didn't wear any Mets insignia. It was partly out of fear of getting cut since everyone west of Hollywood talks about what an awful, scary neighborhood Dodger Stadium is in. Guess what, that was fifty years ago. LA used eminent domain to destroy an immigrant neighborhood and buy back property meant for public housing so white people can have a baseball team. I think the residents of Elysian Park and Chavez Ravine were allowed to be in a bad mood. Alex and I also walked our Caucasian asses to and from Dodger Stadium and our home, and I'm still alive to blog about it. I mostly feared that some juvenile chant would be directed at my attention from Dodger fans. I'm used to going to Yankee Stadium with Mets and Sox fans so I'm scarred by Yankee fan douchebag-ery. Joe Torre came on screen a few times to remind fans to not be assholes and the Dodger Organization announced a number to text if anyone is "hindering your experience of enjoying the game." Like LA, Dodger Stadium has as much character as a modest split level ranch in San Dimas and the energy was comfortably antiseptic. Shea was gross but you loved it because it was gross. When you walked out of the subway and you saw the imposing size of Shea and you knew were going to an Event. Dodger Stadium is something you stumble upon when you finally make your way through the parking lot. I'm sure growing up in LA, Dodger Stadium plays a big part in your childhood memories and you can tell the fans really loved this team. I'm not hating. I look forward to going back and getting those garlic fries. Though Brookyln would like its team back.

Shitcanned-tivities #1: Daytime Television

So it's 2009 and everyone I know is or has been laid off, fired, let go, "we're not renewing your contract", "your position is ceasing to exist", "it's not you, it's the headcount" shitcanned. College graduates who've only known how to make their teachers and parents happy by doing well in school and making their bosses, parents, college loan lenders and the landlord happy by doing well at a job, are wandering the streets not knowing whose approval they are to seek out next. They're clawing the racks of The Gap for their next sweater set fix, making way too many weekday lunch plans with people they could care less to see when employed, and cleaning. The upwardly mobile are floating, wondering how anyone can afford a monthly Metro Card without TransitChek and how much gas is needed for a weekly grocery trip. I've been unemployed on and off again for two years. I've had four jobs during one 18 -month engagement to one person. My prospects are as bright as my surprise when New York State still deposits a few hundred bucks in my account. During my on and off bouts of unemployment, I've discovered a few do's and don'ts to enjoy your freedom and maximize your time. Here's my first in a series of Shitcanned-tivities. If anyone has any suggestions, please share!
  • Shitcanned-tivity Tip #1: How to Watch Daytime Television
Do not watch television from 1-4 PM. You will not feel worse about yourself. You still feel like you're part of society by watching morning television. What's today's news? Which show is longer: The Today Show or Pinwheel? What awful thing will come out of Elisabeth Hasselbeck's mouth? Whose heart will give out first: Kelly's from malnourishment or Regis' because Joy took his pacemaker to get covered in Louis Vuitton leather? In between the noon news and Oprah, it's a depressing landscape of technical school ads you remember watching when you came home from kindergarten, injury lawyer commercials, and court shows. I think this why perfectly smart people watch soaps. It offers a task while watching television in the afternoon. "I have to follow my stories." "I have to catch up on my soap." "I missed it today, what happened?" You feel like there's purpose in your television viewing. The more Maury and Judge Brown you watch, the quicker you slide from the sexy prime time network demographic that advertisers aim for to society's underbelly that hinges it's hopes on a gun repair class or an incurable disease with a big pay out.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Graduating to a new decade

Washington Square Park, May 2001. Before war and temp agency time cards.
There's a lot of "you're screwed" letters to the Class of 2009 floating around. Here's actually a really funny one. Hahaha, the environment and Wall Street are head to head in the race to hell, there's no jobs, there's no loans, and Teach America is now turning people away. You can't even get a job teaching math in the South Bronx. Congratulations, you're all assholes Class of 2009. Now give MTV another reason to make a new season of "My Super, Self-entitled, Classist, Materialistic Sweet 16." I would argue that Class of 2001 was the first of the Millenials to be handed the shit end of the stick along with our diploma. For those 1979 babies turning 30 this year (for me, May 29, there better be a shitload of Facebook wall writing next week), let's reflect on our 20's:
  • During college we saw the Internet grow and explode. I spent senior year in NYU being able to order spring rolls, tampons, and the director's cut of Doom Generation for delivery from the same website. The world was our oyster! Remember all those messenger bags with cutesy, quirky names and logos floating around the city?
  • The first presidential "election" we could participate in was also our first defining Supreme Court case.
  • 9/11 happened four months after we graduated, right when our summer internships ended and we began signing up for temp agencies, because all those Internet start ups that were supposed to make us rich went out of business.
  • Iraq.
  • Our second presidential election showed us Jesus will be beat out science, reason ,and lots of dead soldiers.
  • Evidence of torture.
  • Hurricane Katrina.
  • We're still watching thousands of our generation die needlessly in stupid fucking war but we can't get jobs on Wall Street or mortgage companies and no one knows where Cindy Sheehan is anymore, so who cares.
  • Actual torture.
So here we are at 30. We get to buy acne products and face dwindling reproductive options all at the same time! But I'm psyched for 30. It's the new 20. It has to be. Our parents had a mortgage, ten years into a job, two cars, and a family at this age. I'm sitting at my dining room table 11:30 in the morning warning fellow underemployed college graduates that their delicate self esteem will slide into oblivion if they allow themselves to get sucked into daytime television.
Any thoughts on 30? Please share your comments and I'll compile them on my birthday next Friday.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

LA Lesson #3: Passive Aggressiveness

In to order navigate the social world of LA you have to work on two different tracks. In person, you have to be friendly and warm and take an interest in the other person's life. You know, be a human. In your head you have to re-translate their questions to you and the answers they give to your questions and figure out what they really mean. And it doesn't end there. Don't be surprised if weeks later you'll discover their true feelings and opinions and it'll usually happen via technology: an e-mail or text. Sometimes it'll be an email to your "attempt at human contact" phone message. This social interaction is usually at its finest during a monetary transaction. I now present to you a short play that may or may not be based on a true story. The layout is awful because I still don't understand how to use Blogger.
  • Scene 1
  • Anonymous Subletter: Here are your keys. I'm so sorry I broke your window. Please keep the deposit until you know if you need to pay for the repair. Was everything else okay?(1)
  • Anonymous Sublette: Yeah, everything was fine.(2)
  • Scene 2
  • Anonymous Subletter (leaving voicemail): Hi Anonymous Sublettee, its Anonymous Subletter. It's been six weeks and I haven't heard back about the window repair or deposit. I'd like the deposit back.(1)
  • Email response (3) from Anonymous Sublettee to Anonymous Subletter's phone message:
    Hi Anonymous Subletter - I got your message. The window was repaired on Tuesday and the Property Manager didn't say anything about being charged.(4) So I'll return the deposit if you agree to pay if I'm charged when I move out. I'm withholding $25 because there wasn't toilet paper and the apartment hasn't been cleaned in six weeks.
  • Scene 3:
  • Ann. Subletter That is Now Outright Aggressive: What was dirty? (1)
  • Ann. Sublette: Uh, everything.
  • Ann. Subletter: I cleaned. There wasn't six weeks of crumbs and hair and toothpaste. I washed towels, sheets, counters, dishes, took out garbage and recycling - consistently.
  • Ann. Sublettee: Uh, well you didn't leave toilet paper. (6)
  • Ann.Subletter: Sorry. The third of a toilet paper, a few sheets of paper towels and 3 trash bags that were here when I moved in doesn't cost $25 to replace. Why didn't you tell me this when I asked if everything is okay six weeks ago? (1)
  • Ann Subletee: Um, I had to think about it. (7) I'm not arguing with you about $25. You got a lot for your money. (8)
  • (1)Direct request for clear information and honesty.
  • (2)An answer on the surface that would appear to be true.
  • (3)Example of choosing indirect form of communication to respond to direct request for clear information.
  • (4)Example of not requesting information about future transaction in fear of answer and avoiding closure to the issue.
  • (5) The real answer to "Was everything okay?" asked directly six weeks prior.
  • (6) Attempt to take a small issue and make a blanket statement about overall condition to justify position.
  • (7) LA!
  • (8) Belittling other person for standing up for herself by being a martyr for undercharging rent. This masks regret for not asking for more money in the beginning and making up reasons to hang on to any part of the additional deposit.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Our apartment with our stuff

We're putting another shelf above the bar. More importantly we need more bottles on the bar.
Our living room.
Hutch it up!
Our social life.
There's a larger candle scape plan in the works for the faux fireplace.
Our front door. It reminds me of Billy Crystal's door in "The Princess Bride."
Pillows with a mattress somewhere. Bed side tables are on the to-do list.
A wall that desperately needs a mirror.
French doors in our bedroom that leads to the courtyard.
A very long hallway that rivals the square footage of some Manhattan studio apartments.
Where Alex earns a living everyday.
Our monstrous wardrobe, hated by friends that helped us move in Brooklyn, made the trip to LA. Kitchen. Our dishwasher and stove are not Smurf blue. There's stainless underneath the protective stickers.
Our guest bathroom is also known as "The Portal." It connects the office and kitchen and has a side door to the courtyard.
Guest bathroom.
Our bathroom. I bought that blue mini drawer thing at "Surprise! Surprise" on Third Ave in the East Village a million years ago.