Los Angeles

Poetry Thursday: Los Angeles, dammit

plane landing at LAX in the gloaming

You could be sad
somewhere else, maybe,
but here?
Surrounded by darkened mountains
dotted with the fairy lights
of a thousand houses on stilts?
Flying through the night
on doo-wop and dinosaur bones,
windows down,
spring-into-early-summer air
whipping your pigtails
into whirligig frenzy?
Here? In this temporarily
frozen slice of endless possibility
tinged with pleasure?

Not here.

You come for a stretch, I know,
a season of pilots,
a trip down to Disneyland
and back up to Yosemite,
a trek to the beach
to watch the freaks,
a spin up to the aeries,
or down into the valleys,
to gawk at the stars.

if you never find
yourself behind the wheel
at night,
rolling down the 405,
up the 2,
around the curve
that gives you a 360 view
of crappy Los Angeles,
whipping it into
a froth of wonder
so goddamn majestic
your heart could break
if it didn't swell properly,
if you never do that,
well, then, friend,
back to the East,
or the Lakes,
or whatever Great-White-North
side of the planet
you may return.

But if you would
wish yourself back,
stay off that freeway
after hours,
when the magic is strong
and the sirens' song, true,
or L.A.
will make you her bitch.


Image by jondoeforty1 via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Clearing my (psychic) clutter, Day 11: Cafe du Village, and the beauty of disposable goods as reward


I was hit by the blow of the decade last week: my beloved Café du Village, delicious, unpretentious and relatively reasonably-priced, indoor-outdoor French eatery on famed (and a wee too twee, but oh, well) Larchmont Boulevard, was getting the boot by the building's owners.

Or rather, they weren't exactly, but raising the rent 100% overnight makes staying put a difficult proposition for a small, family-owned eatery in the middle of the worst economic downturn we've enjoyed (ha!) since the Great Depression.

The good news? They've been given a three-month reprieve. That's three months to load up on the Monsieur Cobb, the curried chicken salad, or the yum-diddlee-yum Nicoise.

Three months of grilled chicken, ham & swiss or my own personal fave, Le Bandol (kinda like Frenchy gyros) on ciabbattina (sic), with a split side of yummy salad and skinny fries (are there any other kind?) on the side. (SCD-ers take note: Le Bandol is also delish served atop the salad alone; order double-meat like the fat, proud, American pig you are and thank me later).

You like breakfast? They do a nice breakfast! And a non-crowded dinner, with a special or two in addition to the regular menu. Personally, I'd get my coffee elsewhere, maybe Peet's, down the block, but coffee in general ain't the best in L.A. What can I say? We get the nice weather instead.

I plan to eat at Cafe du Village as often as humanly possible over the next few months, both to get my fix and perhaps generate some positive juju flowing their way, that they might be asked to stay a little bit longer. It is my fondest wish that if you are an Angeleno or just passing through, decluttering or not, you make Cafe du Village your destination for breakfast, lunch or dinner at least once in that three-month window as well. It is hard to find great places to eat clean (although I've been known to succumb to a fry or two in my weaker moments), and I'd like this one to stick around, or at least enjoy such a rollicking business that they're compelled to re-open in a new (and less twee, maybe?) location if they do get the boot.

Decluttering and all, I'm still considering the purchase of one of their ultra-cute tees, in solidarity with them. But reward enough for me will be Le Bandol on salad, double-meat, with a fruity-ass iced tea on the side.

Eminently delicious; 100% biodegradable.



Cafe du Village
139 N Larchmont Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90004
(323) 466-3996

(open until January; call first, just in case!)

Photo © flao via Flickr.

Referral Friday: LOCAL


Referral Friday is an ongoing series inspired by John Jantsch's Make-a-Referral Week. For more about that, and loads more referrals for everything from cobblers to coaches to gee-tar teachers, start here. Pass it on, baby!

Funny that until I'd actually typed out the name of my new-favorite local eatery here in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, the aptly named "LOCAL", I'd never thought of the potential for shifting the stress to the other syllable and making it "Lo-CAL", a world away in meaning, for want of some punctuation.

LOCAL is about many things: fresh, delicious, simple ingredients prepared with love in novel and exceptional ways; a laid-back, neighborhood-y vibe in which to enjoy your squares; and, yes, hot guys (see above photo for documentation, living in hipster L.A. has its advantages). What it is not about is anything lo-cal, by which I chiefly mean food-esque items that have been manipulated into simulacra of real food, only with whatever extracted so that you don't plump up around the edges. You know: the diet, lo-cal crap you find packaged in stores with labels like "Healthy Gack" or anything with the extra consonants in the word "light" removed.

Then again, LOCAL is hardly a fat-fest, and should you bring your level head along to direct your mandible, I'm guessing you'll come out alright. (Or, if you're local and walk or bike there, you can pig out with relative peace of mind.) But there are things like pig in various delicious forms on the menu, and there are eggs, and there is butter. Tasty, tasty butter, as in "a good pat and a half on my thick-cut, fresh-baked slice of rye toast." Sweet Jesus, carry me home.

There are also plenty of yummy vegetables to balance things out. My dining (or rather, breakfasting) companion had a mind-blowing side of sauteed spinach, yes, spinach, laced with thyme and apple matchsticks. And that was only the obvious and/or visible prep: our host and pork-enabler, Lee, explained the rather elaborate three-step process the spinach went through before things like heat and apple matchsticks were introduced. And something-something locally sourced and organically grown and OH, LOOK, A BUNNY!

Whatever, Lee! Just keep those lovingly-pulled Americanos coming and smile at us with your icy-blue orbs of magical goodness, and we're good. Nay, great.


Local Restaurant, Silver Lake
2943 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Open for breakfast 7 days
Open for dinner Tues - Sat
See site for hours.

Image by steven damron via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Referral Friday: Barbara's at the Brewery


Referral Friday is an ongoing series inspired by John Jantsch's Make-a-Referral Week. For more about that, and loads more referrals for everything from cobblers to coaches to gee-tar teachers, start here. Pass it on, baby!

One thing that drives me batty about Los Angeles is the paucity of excellent, low-key, non-gross hangs for a nice-sized crowd.

I hail from Chicago, you see, where the hardest thing about picking a place to meet is choosing which one to meet at. Maybe it's because the rents are cheaper; maybe it's because the people are.

Regardless, when you find a great venue to host a crowd, one with terrific draft beers and tasty food at reasonable prices, plus a big comfy space in which to hang, you must note it. And cherish it, and tell others, the right kind of others, hopefully, so that the cash will continue to flow its way and the vibe will persist in its awesomeness.

Barbara's at the Brewery scores on all the above counts, and it's easy to get to, and it has copious free parking on site. What's more it's the hang of choice (for obvious reasons) of the very nice tenants of the Brewery Arts Complex, an off-line brewery that was converted to artists' lofts long ago, and which is the place for the twice-yearly, super-crazy Artwalk at the Brewery.

They're even the unofficial headquarters of the KERNSPIRACY designers' list, meatspace division: I've enjoyed many a glass of Cab mingling with designers, photographers and other delightful creative folk.

If you live in Los Angeles and you're not a tool (sorry, tools, nothing personal!), please consider having your next party at the awesomely accommodating Barbara's.

And tell Mike that Colleen said to say, "Hi!"...


Photo © 2009 Aaron Wulf.

Barbara's at the Brewery
The Brewery Arts Complex

Referral Friday: Cuppa cuppa Barry's Tea


Referral Friday is part of an ongoing series inspired by John Jantsch's Make-a-Referral Week. For more about that, and loads more referrals for everything from cobblers to coaches to gee-tar teachers, start here. Pass it on, baby!

For the first two and a half years I was on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, I was very, very good. Which is to say, I was, in the parlance of Elaine Gottschall and hard-core SCD-ers, a fanatical adherent.

That meant many, many things were out, both in their whole form, rice, sugar, wheat (although who the hell wants to munch on wheat is beyond me), and, worse, as trace elements: the fillers, extenders, and sweeteners that make life both delicious and convenient, albeit frequently unhealthy.

Coffee was entirely out, as the only acceptable forms of it and its caffeinated cousin, tea, were "black" and "weak." I'm fine with the former but sweet mother of pearl, what is the point of weak coffee except as some kind of ingenious torture? No, I switched immediately to black tea with honey, and then spent the next two and a half years looking for the best-tasting variety of each.

Thanks to The BF and his own interesting travels, I discovered Barry's.

Deeply Irish, with some of the ugliest packaging this side of a tampon box, Barry's is everything a tea should be: robust, clean and emphatic, even at the low volumes an SCDer is forced to enjoy it at. At full strength, it would likely kick your sorry ass all the way to Killarney, even as it had you boo-hooing for more. Barry's is EFFIN' DELICIOUS, my friend, and highly addictive.

Yes, you will have your fancy types talking up PG Tips (or yer hoi polloi insisting that grocery store-available Twinings is so refined). Smile, and let them. Only turn on your bestest of friends to the Barry's, and they will speak your name with the hushed tones of wonder and adoration usually reserved for saints and Malcolm Gladwell, pre-Outliers. (Oh, like you didn't know he'd tipped.)

If you live in a big and bustling metropolis, I urge you to seek out your local purveyor of imported Irish (and sometimes English) goods. I buy mine from the lovely ladies at the Irish Import Shop here in Los Angeles, two boxes of Classic Blend at a time, since the hardnoses refuse to accept my Mastercard for purchases under $10, no matter how much business I bring their way.

You can also purchase from them online, which I highly recommend, as then their brick-and-mortar shop with its fresh, fresh bounty will stay in bidness. Or, if you have a thing for Amazon and skipping sales tax, well, at least you can buy your Barry's through this link and net me a few pennies into the bargain.




Image by malias via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Referral Friday: BLANKSPACES

Coworking Los Angeles - Beverly Hills - West Hollywood

Referral Friday is part of an ongoing series inspired by John Jantsch's Make-a-Referral Week. For more about that, and loads more referrals for everything from cobblers to coaches to gee-tar teachers, start here. Pass it on, baby!

Let's get one thing clear right up front: I'm an introverted, Type-A, control-freak hermit who was never happier than when I got to kiss the office world goodbye.

But if I wasn't, I'd be at BLANKSPACES.

Frankly, I'm at this clean, modern, okay, sex-aaaay, co-working space quite a bit as it is, especially for a purported introvert. In addition to rent-by-day/week/month cubes, open-air "workbenches," and private, glass-walled conference rooms, BLANKSPACES has become the go-to spot for people hosting small-to-medium sized networking events. I've been to at least a dozen over the past six or eight months since I discovered the joint, and have enjoyed myself every time. BLANKSPACES-hosted events attract a lively mix of creative, enterprising freelance types, and the space itself is so beautiful and airy, even non-BLANKSPACE events have a gloss of magazine pictorial awesome.

Jerome Chang, the architect (literally! and a good one!) of BLANKSPACES, outlines his initial vision and intent for the space in an open letter to the community: to support the freelance community with the resources, both collaborative and physical, that inspire us to do our best work.

It's why we chose BLANKSPACES to host the first PresentationCamp LA. It's why I'll choose it when I start hosting one-on-one client sessions.

It's why I'm recommending it here...


5405 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 330-9505

Rates, package information and free week trial here.
Cute ads that won't make you gack here.


Referral Friday: Cafe Tropical


Referral Friday is part of an ongoing series inspired by John Jantsch's Make-a-Referral Week. For more about that, and loads more referrals for everything from cobblers to coaches to gee-tar teachers, start here. Pass it on, baby!

I'd always suspected Los Angeles got shortchanged in the espresso department, and it took an extended trip to Seattle to prove it. More good coffee there than you should shake a stick at, although why you'd go around shaking a stick at delicious, delicious coffee is beyond me.

We have a few decent cuppas here on the East Side in the Lake of Silver 'hood: our local outpost of Chicago-based Intelligentsia serves an outstanding Americano, and I'll grudgingly admit to a sort of liqueur-y excellence to schmantastic LAMILL's brew. But there's no non-carb-y grub at the former and only outrageously priced (albeit tasty...grudging, grudging) at the latter, and Intelligentsia is a chain (albeit small and excellent and definitely to be chosen over all other chains) and LAMILL just aggravates me to no end. Too twee.

What is in the Lake of Silver Land and not twee? So not twee that its outdoor seating area could generously be described as "colorful" and/or "sun-baked"? So far from twee that it has photo signs of food you can point to when placing your order, hosts the hipster AA meeting, and has only TWO available coffee options, negro or con leche?

Why, Café Tropical (rhymes with "bop yer pal"), of course!

Not only that, but, I shit you not, Café Tropical serves up what I've come to believe, after vast sampling, one of the finest and most generous Cobb salads in town, and at the low, low price of seven (or eight? WHATEVER) bucks. Feeds two non-greedy people easily, with some left over if they're really non-greedy. (I'm on the small side, and I can usually get three small meals out of it.) Who the hell eats a Cobb salad with a steaming hot cup of Cuban-style Americano, you ask? Hell if I know, bub. I make a separate trip lunchtime or after.

Of course, there is also an insanely great array of Cuban pressed sandwiches and pastries to make those on low-carb diets weep with frustration and drool with envy. My friend, Ritzy, brought a whole guava-with-cheese pie (a specialty, and hot damn, I know why) to a gals' night I hosted and damned if I didn't cave...and didn't care. Freakishly delicious.

I know, I know, this is a local shoutout, and all y'all come from all over. Grant me a few gimmes, huh? So my fave local spots stay live and local?

And if you find yourself in L.A. and East Side, hell, in L.A., period, toddle on over. It's one of those neighborhood gems no one visiting from out of town used to stumble upon, in the time before Yelp. (I suppose it may have made Zagat's, but I can't imagine a middlebrow write-up of Tropical's...er...charms making it sound that enticing.)

Go. Drink. Eat. Hit a meeting, if that's your thing.

Just make sure you save some room for the guava pie...


Cafe Tropical
2900 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(323) 661-8391

Photo ©Food GPS, via Flickr. More yummy shots of the food here.

Referral Friday: Catts & Doggs


Referral Friday is part of a series inspired by John Jantsch's Make-a-Referral Week. For more about that, and loads more referrals for everything from cobblers to coaches to gee-tar teachers, start here. Pass it on, baby!

If you're a hard-core, DIY-type of dog owner, you can watch an instructional video on how to express your dog's anal glands here.

If you're not, and you're lucky enough to live in Los Angeles, you can take your beloved pooch for a grooming at Silver Lake's own Catts & Doggs, where, for the low, low price of something-per-pound (and really, when you're talking expressing anal glands, any price starts to seem low, economy be damned), they will turn your Fifi or Fido into a clean-smelling, silky-coated, fuzzbuddle of huggability. With hygienically drained anal glands!

The beloved Arno J. McScruff (see photo above) weighs in at about 40 lbs., and the full fluff-'n'-puff ('n', y'know, ETCETERA), ran $50 cheep. And he is a wiry dude, and afterwards? As silky as a Breck girl (albeit a lot less happy about it. What is it with dogs and stank?)

Catts & Doggs also sports a delightful array of adorable toys, collars and other spoiled-pet accoutrements, as well as a carefully selected assortment of healthy, high-end pet foods. And the people are nice, and they give humans free candy quite often, which is also nice, and the place smells good, which is nicest of all. I mean, have you been to a PetSmart? Yuck!

Catts & Doggs (here's the Yelp!, too)
2833 Hyperion Ave

Los Angeles,
CA 90027
(323) 953-8383

M 9a - 7p
T-F 8a - 8p
Sat. 8a - 7:30p
Sun. 9a - 7p

"Thank you, sir! May I have another!?"™, Day 15: Don't call us...

This is Day 15 of a 21-day effort to see the good in what might, at first, look like an irredeemable drag. Its name comes from a classic bit of dialogue uttered by actor Kevin Bacon in a classic film of my generation, Animal House. I did not start out here in Hollywood as a hot commodity. To do that without being well-connected you have to be:

  1. exceptionally young
  2. exceptionally beautiful
  3. exceptionally weird looking
  4. exceptionally funny

Some people might argue that "exceptionally talented" should be on that list. I, on the other hand, would argue that everyone thinks he's exceptionally talented, so what's the point? There's one Meryl Streep; there's a million people like you...getting off the bus...every day.

But I digress.

I was none of those things. But even though I was 33 when I got my start, I was fairly funny and in target range looks-wise for a gigantic commercial type (i.e., "Young Mom," 24-34). And I was connected, thanks to the Groundlings Sunday Company and my old career as an adhole, so between the resume at Groundlings and a casting director I'd worked with many times on Gatorade, I got a commercial agent.

I even booked a spot. A horrible test-market spot that went nowhere, but still, a booking. My agent seemed pleased.

So when she got a better gig across the street and was only taking her "bookers," I was stunned to hear I wasn't included. And, well...hurt. Yes. I was hurt.

Ordinarily, I would have gone off in a huff with my hurt feelings ("I'll show her") but in one of his more useful moments, my dad told me flat out what to do: go to her and ask her if she could recommend me to anyone else. To my great surprise, she gave up four names. I put packages together, sent them off, followed up, and nothing.

And then one of them called me. He is Cris Dennis of Film Artists Associates, and he is one of the greatest guys in the world. It doesn't usually happen and it's certainly not a prerequisite of doing business, but we genuinely like each other and call each other friends. He and his wife, Martha, were my staunch defenders while I was sick and then recovering from Crohn's, offering any help they could and insisting I take off as much time as I felt like, and to hell with it. For years after the onset (because these things are really up and down, especially until you learn to manage them), Cris would accept my "not up to it today" without so much as an audible sigh. Complete, unwavering acceptance and support.

But before all this loveliness developed, I was just the new schmo on the client list. Going out time after time, and not booking. I was so upset at the six-month mark, around the Christmas holiday, that I fell over myself apologizing when I stopped by his office to drop off the only gift I could afford: some small plant or a mixtape. Pathetic. And he could not have been more gracious: "Don't worry, it takes time. It'll happen."

When you are low and desperate, this means almost as much, if not more, than the validation of a booking itself. Someone believes in you. Someone is laying out time and money every day because he believes in you. I never forgot it.

I certainly didn't forget it two years later, when another agency started courting me, hard. Because Cris had been right: I did start booking. And I had spots running everywhere. Class A, network commercials, good ones, funny ones, with me front and center. Selling cars and tacos and I don't remember what else. A crapload of crap. I was lousy with TV presence.

The agent who'd been assigned to my case confided that my name had come up in their weekly meeting as a hot person they wanted on their roster. Who is she? Who is she with? Find her and get her here. Who was I?

I was that person who sent you a head shot and resume two years ago. When I had only the good name of my previous agent and a few paltry credits to recommend me. When I had no spots running and nobody knew my name and no one was willing to take a chance on me.

Well, no one but Cris Dennis. And if you think I'm leaving him to come to you, you're out of your mind.

I was nicer about it, of course. Even while I was marveling over having this conversation, the dream one, the one where the object of unrequited desire comes crawling back on all fours, I couldn't be mean. What would be the point, other than giving someone fodder for calling me bee-yotch.

But it was, I confess, a glorious moment. One I never would have had, along, quite possibly, with a career and a great friendship, had I not been shitcanned.

So thank you, old agent, for shitcanning me. And for being gracious enough to pass along those names.

Sometimes, you really do get to see karma in action...

xxx c

Image by James Gubera via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

"Thank you, sir! May I have another!?"™, Day 02: Me and the girls get a new teacher

This is Day 2 of a 21-day effort to see the good in what might, at first, look like an irredeemable drag. Its name comes from a classic bit of dialogue uttered by actor Kevin Bacon in the comedy classic of my generation, Animal House. bloggy-cleavage-wolfheadfilms-233252254_ddf28fd384_o

One side effect of carrying around a few extra el-bees is a proportional increase in the chestal area. For the first time since...oh, hell, high school? college? (maybe some of you lurking ex-es could chime in), I have significant boobage.

From the cultural cues that surround us, you'd think this would be a good thing. In most respects, however, it's a colossal pain in the assets. I've always liked small boobs, both from an aesthetic and practical point of view. As have my various partners. (At least, as far as I know. Lurker exes?) Not only did my tiny breasteses look great in and out of clothes, but unlike those of my well-endowed sisters, my own girls required virtually no maintenance from a containment perspective.

No more. I've been sensing for a while now that my old "bras" (aka a wardrobe of dago tees) weren't cutting it anymore. No matter that I wash and dry them on the hottest settings, replace them dutifully each spring, and wear a fresh, tight one each day: I've moved from a barely-A to a big man-handful, and no amount of cotton ribbing and denial is enough to keep things under control. And the few actual brassieres I bought for Casual Mom audition drag are a good six years and 1.5 cup sizes past their usefulness.

Because brother, I hate bra shopping almost as much as I hate bra-wearing. From a physical or political perspective, they're equally annoying. Why the hell should I have to sacrifice time, money and comfort for the sake of propriety, otherwise known as the reigning sex's inability to keep their eyes off the prizes? If I don't mind my tits winding up the low-hanging victims of gravity, how they dangle should be my own damned business.

Alas, I live in a world where others will look, either askance or lecherously, and I'm not enough of a booby buddha to not let it get to me. So for all my feminist decrying, the bottom line is that mainly, I've just been too cheap and too lazy to do anything about it.

Until yesterday. I had an errand to run in that hideous sprawl just east of Los Angeles known as the Inland Empire, home to the biggest IKEA in all the Southland as well as, it seems, some of our more revolting specimens of masculinity. Despite my very obviously being dressed so as to not solicit attention of any kind, baggy cargos, loose, long-sleeved tee and the ubiquitous dago underneath, many of these charming gents gave me the surreptitious once-over. Whatever. Some people really don't have enough excitement in their lives.

Then, in the parking lot of an adjacent mall, one of them openly stared straight at my boobs and, before he was out of eyeline, much less earshot, cracked to his equally vile friend, "See? Like those, bouncing all over the place."

At first, I was incensed. This roly-poly cholo, this marginalized weeble in oversized baby clothes, dares malign me and my few extra ounces of bouncy old lady-flesh? Fuuuuuuuuuuck you, esé. I'm the revolution, baby; I'm an Agent of Change. I'm your mother, your sister, your daughter (well, more like your abuelita, really); how would you feel if some punk piece of trash guero caught one of them in their own vile line of fire?

And just as quickly, the flame of anger burned off and I realized the truth: I was no better, and arguably far worse than they. My lowest-common-denominator thinking, my impulse to objectify them rather connect with any common humanity was as foul as anything I was condemning in them. So what if I wasn't as out-loud-obnoxious about it? That sprung from common sense and an instinct for survival, not anything noble.

Plus, there was the stark physical truth that they had pointed out, however rudely: my containment system was overtaxed, my meatflaps were flopping all over, and if I wanted to continue to fly under the radar, it was time to walk into Ross Dress for Less and, er, take matters in hand. Which I did, albeit in a grumbling sort of way. (If bra shopping is ever fun, it is not under these circumstances.) The universe, sensing my delicate mood, graciously directed me to six models on the tangled rack, three of which not only fit, but set me back a mere twenty bucks total. I did a patented Actor Change™ in the car, and poof!, back under the radar I went.

Teachers: wherever you are, I thank you. I thank you for reminding me that I, too, am a pig, that some hills are not worth dying on and that sometimes, the solution is actually crazy simple.

Two boobs from the barrio put two boobs in a bra.

Nice symmetry, that...

xxx c

Image by wolfheadfilms via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Here I go, shooting my big mouth off again

me at Subject Line Here Believe it or not, it's been over a year since I've been on a stage. Yup, one whole year (and a summer) since Shane Nickerson organized the first L.A. blogger performance thingy I'd ever heard of, "Subject Line Here."

Since then, Leah Peterson of LeahPeah has taken on the heinous task of riding nerd herd patrol. I was unable to attend the first gathering of L.A. Bloggers Live! because I was busy being inducted as Chief Nerd, but--gawd help us all--I'm doing this one. (I have no idea what I'm doing yet, but oh, well!)

Here's the line up as of now:

Tomorrow, Wednesday the 22nd, at Tangier. 4 bucks cheep. Be there or be square.

Oh, wait, if you're reading this, you probably already are...

xxx c

The Life, Death and Rebirth of a theater company: a brief History and Cautionary Tale

ER new

  1. small but passionate band of artists form company in 1995
  2. entire company sucks it up/busts hump to help build amazing reputation/following
  3. reputation/following grows
  4. reputation/following grows
  5. reputation/following grows
  6. heartless capitalist landlord gives band of artists the heave-ho
  7. awesome (loaded) members of company contribute huge sums of money, buying the theater a home to live in
  8. awesome (not-loaded) member of company contributes huge amounts of sweat equity and genius to create sterling reputation in local theater community to raise the theater's profile
  9. entire company sucks it up/busts hump to help build amazing reputation/following
  10. reputation/following grows
  11. reputation/following grows
  12. reputation/following grows
  13. grumbling in the ranks about too much sucking it up/hump-busting, particularly as regards being cast in plays
  14. outright denial of unfair treatment by management
  15. miscommunication builds
  16. miscommunication builds
  17. miscommunication builds
  18. sides are taken
  19. loaded members take ball and go home
  20. not-loaded members take mailing list and go live out of (metaphorical) shopping cart
  21. website mysteriously vanishes
  22. former member/webmistress/general design lackey comes out of hiding to save "vanished" website, purchasing new URL, redirecting to new server
  23. former member/webmistress/general design lackey, peeved over having to spend time needlessly recreating work because of childish vendetta, propagates new URL all over the intertubes to get Google rank back up, then shamelessly requests others to come to her aid and do same

xxx c

P.S. The new home of the ER online is evidenceroomtheater.com. Pass it on...

Nerd Love, Day 19: 10 reasons nerds LOVE the Apple Store at the Grove

apple store at the grove 1. Conveniently located to Los Angeles' fashionable East side. 2. Get to watch Vegas-style timed musical fountain whilst walking to/from personal transpo device. 3. Better porn than Hustler store. 4. Retro-calming, Holly Golightly-esque, "Nothing bad could ever happen to you in a place like this" design vibe. 5. No rats. 6. Close proximity to wide variety of foods legal on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. 7. New! Urban equivalent of Wal-Mart greeter at front door! 8. New! Validated parking with ANY purchase! 9. New! Apple staff can ring up (credit card) purchases via handy/scary device around neck. 10. New! Apple staff can print out receipt on spot or email it to your .mac account.

Which leaves only one question: what is keeping you PC boneheads from drinking the Kool-Aid and getting down with the program?

Silly PC users...

xxx c

Image by Chet Yeary II via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Farewell, Miss Anita

Anita O'Day About five or six years ago, I found myself in severely reduced circumstances. The SAG commercial strike and ensuing fallout had eviscerated my bank account; for the first time in a long time, I found myself unable to scrape up the considerable cash required to get my usual cut and color (single-process, nothing fancy) at the high-falutin' salon. (Well, it was that or booze, and you can pick the horse that's gonna win that race.)

My boyfriend at the time, The Youngster, had found an unusual hair stylist in Hollywood. Tony's initial allure was the 24-hour service he promised in his yellow pages ad, and The Youngster needed a 6am haircut or somesuch to make an 8am appointment.

It turned out that one needed to give Tony a bit of advance notice to book 16 of the 24, but not much. It also turned out that Tony, who had been Stylist to the Stars back in the day, charged a mere $20 for a ladies' cut, $40 if you threw in a color and brought your own. Which I did, happily.

One day, The Youngster came back from a cut (no color) all a-fluffle. Tony had let slip the name of one of his more famous clients, hell, maybe his sole famous client: Anita O'Day.

If you are not a jazz fan, the name might not mean anything to you. Anita O'Day never got big-big like Ella or Billie or Dinah or Sarah or any of the one-name songstresses. No matter. A complete iconoclast in her phrasing, her dress, her very life, she was she-bop itself, jazz-cool from her head to her toes. As one of the talking heads in the docu of her life points out (trailer on YouTube), she was the first vocalist on the Verve label, the first, and what she lacked in vibrato she made up for in every other way. She had a way of bending a song to her will so that it was almost unrecognizable...and yet, once you heard it, you had a hard time imagining it sung any other way.

My personal favorite was her rendition of "Johnny One-Note," an old showtune she grabbed hold of and forever blew the hokum from. The most famous example (caught on film, anyway) is probably her dazzling take on "Tea for Two." (You can catch a clip of her famous performance at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival here on YouTube, and how exactly did we obsess over people before YouTube, anyway?)

Of course, I wasted no time blabbing my love for "Miss Anita" (Tony's name for her), and Tony, ever cool, mentioned he might be able to arrange things so I could meet her. Sure enough, a month or so later, I got a call from him suggesting I hightail it over.

I tried to be cool when we were introduced and failed miserably; for her part, Miss Anita was as down to earth as you could want musical idol to be. Plus which she looked twenty times better than I did. Thirty. It was pouring rain, and she was getting ready to call a cab when Tony flashed me a look. I immediately offered myself up as chauffeur, and moments later, we were tooling over to her apartment in my Corolla, me and Miss Anita O'Day.

Me!!! Inches away from an 80-something star who had sung with Benny Goodman, who had beat heroin and hooch, who had gone from from the heights to the pits and back and was just as nice and normal as the day is long...except for that glow. Star wattage.

I have no idea what we talked about during that ten-minute ride; I only know it ended too soon and cheered me for months afterward.

Despite Tony's assurance that we'd someday take in a show, that day never materialized. She was ill or I was ill, it was a time of illness, I guess. But it's almost better that the last real-life memory I have of Miss Anita is of her climbing out of my old car in the rain. I like my stars up close and in person, and sometimes, even a little damp...

xxx c

Anita O'Day, 1919–2006 (official website | wikipedia) Image of Anita O'Day at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival from the York University website.

The semi-annual defilthifying of my apartment grows worse

fan I know, I know, we live in a city. A big one. A humungous one, even, that affords many excellent niceties only a larger metropolis can offer.

Still. Still...

This week's heat finally forced me to attack my most-loathed chore as a (rental) householder: the replacement of several slats of my jalousie windows with gigantic, ghetto-ready box fans. Yeah, it's stunningly unnattractive, but when the mercury hits a certain point, I'll do almost anything to increase the flow of air in the hideous stank soup that is the air chez E-Z-Bake Ovenâ„¢. In fact, I'm typing this naked right now!

It's always a narsty job, but the sheer amount of filth that must be wiped off the windows pre-removal seems to have grown exponentially in the past few years. Have we crapped up the environment so that things are that much dirtier? Or have we perhaps crapped up the environment so that it's that much drier, creating barnloads of extra loose dirt to swirl around before settling in my apartment?

More importantly, can I use this turn of events to double-up on ire and take umbrage against my next-door neighbors' use of gas-powered leaf blowers to blow the dirt off of their driveway? And what's up with those retards, anyway? Does someone not understand that all they're doing with those mother-humpin' leaf-blowers is shooting a bunch of filth arrows in the air, to fall to earth they know not where?

They're falling in my apartment, you environment-killing assholes! Yeah!!!

And I've got the spent pile of sodden paper towels to prove it...

xxx c

Photo by ♫axime via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Miss Colleen's Wild Ride

autopia I love Disneyland. I have been there many times, as an adult, as a kid...

But I have never been to Disneyland as an adult with a kid. Er...accompanying a kid. Kids, actually. Plural.

Not mine, of course, The BF's. They are magnificent children, bright and nerdy and full of the old whoop-dee-doo. How much whoop-dee-doo, you ask? Enough to spend 14 hours at the Happiest Place on Earthâ„¢. FOURTEEN MOTHERFUCKING HOURS! Like I said, they're great kids, lots of fun, a minimum of whining. But FOURTEEN MOTHERFUCKING HOURS!?! My limit up until yesterday was twelve. Thirteen, maybe.

Anyway, I had no idea that, outside of Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Disneyland could be so edumacational. I give you...


1. The rides are just one big loss leader to sell the merch.

2. I don't care how politically incorrect it is, the Enchanted Tiki Room still kicks major theme park ass.

3. On the other hand, one ride on George Lucas' barf simulator (a.k.a. STAR TOURS) is more than enough.

4. Unless you have a really good inner ear.

5. Or are 8.

6. Or are the younger sister of someone who is.

7. The entire reason why America is such a horrific place can be summed up in the width differential between the waiting areas created pre-1989 and post.

8. The FastPassâ„¢ surpasses e-mail, RSS and home delivery of the Sunday paper in its amazing, time-saving excellence.

9. The scariest part of any ride in the entire park is realizing you can't get out of the Haunted Mansion when you are with two small people who want to do exactly that, and NOW!

10. Even given all of the above, Disneyland is still the Happiest Place on Earthâ„¢...

xxx c

THE REVIEWS ARE IN (or, 'But enough about me; what do you think of me?')

Via email from Neil Kramer, a.k.a. Citizen of the Month, who brought the world-famous Sophia to last week's premiere performance of Subject Line Here, an evening of L.A. bloggers reading their stuff out loud:

Car ride home (well, actually to Canter's)

Me: "So, what did you think of Communicatrix?"

Sophia: "For someone so skinny, there was something about her that was very sexy.

Me: "What about her reading? Wasn't she good?"

Sophia: "A little too geeky for my taste."

Mine, too, Sophia; mine, too...

xxx c

Los Angeles is the world

Emil Weinrott, Dry Goods I've cranked on Los Angeles so much lately that I feel I owe a belated apology to my ex-husband, who was the biggest crank-on-L.A. resident Angeleno I've ever met. His reasons for hating L.A. (superficial, phony, ugly) were different than mine are (traffic, overcrowding, traffic, increasingly ill-tempered drivers and traffic), but the cranking is the same.

Here's the thing: I also love Los Angeles. Love love love it. As in, it's my favorite place I've ever lived. Not just because of the weather (fantastic) and the proximity to ocean/mountains/desert (way close) but because of the sense of wide-open possibility that I imagine there used to be all over this wide, wonderful country we live in. For me, L.A. was the place I could come and be me, whatever the hell that meant, with no apologies. Maybe other people can move to Tulsa or South Beach or Hilo and feel that: for me, it was crunchy-fruity-sprawly-messy Los Angeles.

In the long, slow process of extricating my head from my ass, I'm learning about other things that make my Los Angeles experience so wonderful, namely, the people who keep it running. I don't avail myself of hired domestic services, but I audition in places that do. I eat at restaurants and shop at stores and for the most part thoughtlessly gobble up products and services that are made possible, in whole or in part, by immigrant labor.

Frankly, I can't believe I was so dense for so long. Oh, wait, yes, I can. It's hard to be awake, dammit. It's painful to start the process; it's exhausting and overwhelming and terrifying to stay the course. To be mindful about everything was easier, I think, when there was less to be mindful about, just like history was probably easier to learn when there was less of it.

Or maybe that's where and how to start being mindful: with less. Less house, less stuff, less external noise. Like my friend, Danimus, who woke up his former roommate (and my favorite ex-boyfriend) to the disgustingness of his ways by hiding all but two place settings of the flatware and glassware and dishware, when things are suddenly stripped down to the essentials, when the context is suddenly shifted, we often finally wake up to the mess we've been generating.

Giving up TV last week made me mindful of how much noise it had been generating in my house and, more shamefully, of how much I'd come to depend on it as comfort in certain stressful moments. Similarly, the profound quiet I'm hearing two blocks from what will be the center of the afternoon march on Immigrant Boycott Day speaks louder than all the shouting on either side before it.

I have many opinions on how we should treat each other as human beings and few ideas on how to legislate them. I can't blast those who fret about unfettered immigration because I see their point; I can't support them, because there are human beings involved, and on both sides. On all sides. Sides I haven't even begun to explore yet. As Stephan Faris says in a thought-provoking Salon editorial, this is a global economic issue, not a local one. If I really want to make Los Angeles a better place, I not only have to think about the labor that went into picking that strawberry I'm about to eat, but the global implications of living in a place where such a thing is possible. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, along with a thousand-million ripple actions you may not even be aware of.

The cure for overwhelm?

Tolerance. Kindness. Mindfulness.

Start at any point in the triangle...

xxx c

Photo of my great-grampa, Emil Weinrott (his grandson changed the family name), who emigrated from Russia in the late-19th century to, of all places, Moline, Illinois.

Poor, dead, #1 Chris Penn

chrispenn.jpgI have no idea what Chris Penn really wanted out of life. I spent a total of maybe eight hours with him on the set of a small short film many, many years ago, and I use the term "with" loosely. He was playing an exhibit at an outdoor museum; I was playing a tour guide. It was about 40ºF and raining and every second we weren't shooting, we were all off huddling for warmth, Chris in his trailer, me in some kind camera grip's loaned parka (tour guides wear short-sleeved safari shirts and shorts, regardless of weather). Even those few times we ended up talking in a group of people, he didn't do much talking. He seemed...well, pissed, but hell, the weather did suck and his trailer wasn't much better. I'd be pissed, too. Only I wasn't, because this was my second part in a movie, ever, and I was getting to act. I honestly couldn't believe my good fortune.

It's probably different if your brother is famous and your other brother, well, he's pretty famous, too. Along with your brother's wife, his ex-wife, your other brother's wife, your dad, your mom, and probably several dozen of your closest friends. I used to have anxiety over being compared to my father and grandfather, who were both in advertising, and no one cares about advertising, even the people in it; I can't imagine maintaining my equanimity in the face of grocery lanes and billboards with my fucking family album on them.

Maybe he just wanted to act. They say there are actors out there for whom the just-acting is enough. I don't know; in my 10+ years as an actor, I've yet to meet a single one who would turn down the money and/or the accompanying fame. Yeah, sure, we blather on about our love of the theater and art and 'the work', but let's face it: we didn't exactly pick a profession where you can toil away in obscurity. You have to have an audience to be an actor, even if it's only one; that's how the work works. (And I've acted for that audience of one, for the record. In the world's worst production of The Seagull. You know, the one by that dead Russian guy, that runs almost three hours. Uncut. For one person.)

Even when people tell you what they want, it isn't always what they really want. Most of us aren't willing to cop to our secret agendas. I've seen marriages fall apart, organizations crumble and too many people freaking out on or near their deathbeds to take people at their word. True, Chris Penn was in the same little AFI short that I was for no money, so maybe it was all for the love of a-h-h-h-t. On the other hand, everything you do as an actor has the potential of raising your profile: maybe it's a coincidence that Martin Sheen ended up playing the President on a more famous show after this one; maybe not.

The point, to me, is to get super-dee-duper clear on what you want. Then say it out loud ("I'm black and I'm proud!"), even if you only say it to yourself. Say it over and over, to your friends, in a blog, in your journal, on your résumé, but don't stuff it down. I hid my longing to be an actor, and yes, the famous kind, for many years out of shame and embarrassment and fear. I still do, sometimes, although I now know it's not so much "actor" that I want to be, more like "font of immense inspiration, insight and joy". (Yeesh...talk about embarrassment.)

I hope Chris Penn had a happy life. I hope he loved every minute of what he did. (He certainly was good enough at it.) I hope he never compared himself to his brother or his other brother or his mom or his dad and felt like less-than. I hope he was a raging iconoclast who was fully self-actualized and couldn't have given a hoot about being #1 in the IMDB Pro StarMeter.

And for me? I hope the exact same thing...

xxx c

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