Dear Drunk Guy from the bar last night,
When you stumbled over to my bar stool to chat me up late in the evening, using your best slurred incoherent gibberish, and I told you I just wanted to watch the band and proceeded to ignore you, that was me politely telling you to go away. It was not a challenge for you to reappear minutes later requesting a dance partner, refusing to take no for an answer when I again told you that I wasn’t interested. It was also not an invitation for you to kneel down on the floor at my feet begging while clasping your hands in prayer, batting your eyes and giving me a sad puppy dog face before yanking me out of my seat with your grabby clammy hands, spilling my drink all over me as you twirled me onto the dance floor. Was I unclear? What part of, “Sorry, I’m not interested,” and “No, I don’t want to dance with you,” did you not understand? No means no, buddy. Had you not been completely slizzard, I would have played along and been agreeable to your advances. I would have granted you that dance simply because you’d asked. But if you need so much liquid courage to approach women in bars that you drink until you can’t even string a sentence together, I’m not interested. Just something you might want to think about while you nurse that wicked hangover.
We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this breaking news:
After much kicking and screaming, scoffing and avoiding all things TWILIGHT, I gave in and agreed to watch the first film in the series. A friend had been begging me relentlessly for the past several months to watch it with her and despite my protesting that I detest sci-fi fantasy vampire pictures, she was undeterred. So on Friday I finally relented, conceding that in 20 years of friendship I’d probably made her sit through a few films she wasn’t too crazy about either. Now it was my turn.
This was me: Please, NO! Don’t make me watch it!
Fast forward to me begrudgingly admitting two hours later that despite my original contempt and prejudgment based on the subject matter, I actually enjoyed Twilight AND immediately wanted to watch more. This came as quite a shock to me. I guess I should have given my friend a little credit for knowing my movie tastes by now. I’m all about the relationship dramas.
A forbidden love story laced with sexual tension, teen angst and all that pale sparkly skin. What’s not to like?
Robert Pattinson & Kristen Stewart as Edward Cullen & Bella Swan.
On Saturday morning I watched TWILIGHT: NEW MOON by myself, without any prodding. Then I proceeded to rope my family into a TWILIGHT SAGA marathon, re-watching the first two films with them before my friend came over with TWILIGHT: ECLIPSE on DVD.
I can’t believe I have to wait until November to see the first installment of TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN and another whole year before part two is released! What the hell? But given the subject matter, waiting an eternity to see how the saga wraps up is actually quite fitting.
P.S. - I’m totally for Team Edward.
I always did like ‘em older. Plus, he gets bonus points for having Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” loaded up on the stereo when wooing Bella in his bed-less bedroom. Appropriately, the song’s title means “Moonlight” in French. Love it.
I’m all shook up! After visiting Graceland, it’s official. I love Elvis Presley! I must preface this post by confessing that I was never big on Elvis. The Beatles. Yes. Michael Jackson. Guilty. But Elvis was always kind of a joke…
Bejeweled jumpsuits? Elvis Impersonators? Really?!?
Unfortunately, Elvis Presley died before I was born. So I only ever heard about Fat Elvis, Vegas Elvis - the guy who curled his lip, shook his hips and ate Peanut Butter and Banana sandwiches. I never got to see him perform. I never understood or appreciated how supremely talented he was until now.
Passing through Memphis I thought, We have to stop at Graceland. This’ll be a hoot. I was expecting over the top tacky décor and a bunch of voyeuristic crazies wandering about. What I encountered was a lovely estate preserved like a time capsule from 1977 and a moving tribute to a man who changed the music industry.
Elvis’s wardrobe was particularly impressive, especially the black leather suit he wore during his televised 1968 Comeback Special.
Check out those boots…swoon.
And I loved his wristbands. I was totally tempted to buy these in the gift shop.
There were MANY gift shops:
And it was Christmastime, so I couldn’t resist this pic:
You can almost hear him singing now…
♫ I-I-I’ll h-h-have a Blue Christmas without you ♫
This is the living room. Love the piano and peacock stained glass.
This room was especially moving. In addition to an impressive collection of The King’s jumpsuits and a dizzying number of records that were mounted floor to ceiling, there was a video of Elvis performing (I think in Hawaii.)
To set the scene, there were about 20 of us snapping away, creating a cacophony of cameras clicking and flashes popping. Suddenly I noticed that everyone had stopped and everything went silent except for Elvis. I looked around the room and found every single person staring up at him on the screen, mesmerized. One woman behind me was red-faced with emotion, wiping tears from her cheeks. For the first time I understood Elvis and the power he had over people. He didn’t strike me as saccharine or ridiculous like his impersonators seem to portray. He truly moved people.
He moved me.
…More stories and photos from the road to come.
What kind of road trip would it be if you don’t see the red and blue flashing lights of a police cruiser closing in on your vehicle at 11PM while driving through a dense fog somewhere in the middle of the Texas panhandle? Not my kind of road trip!
“DON, WAKE UP! I’M GETTING PULLED OVER!” I shout over Jeff Buckley’s rising falsetto.
White-knuckled, I veer onto the shoulder as my mind races with possible offenses. The last posted speed limit said 70 - 65 at night. I’m going no more than 69 mph. Could I really be getting pulled over for going four miles over the limit?? Is it illegal to drive with your rearview mirror completely blocked? Trucks don’t use rearview mirrors. Gahh! Calm down. Just see what he wants.
The officer approaches on the passenger side and shines a long flashlight through the opened window.
“License and registration,” he says in a no-nonsense kind of way.
I remove my California driver’s license from my purse and hyperextend my body over the passenger seat to fish my registration out of the glove compartment. With the glovebox open it’s clear that we’re not packing any guns or drugs – but just about everything else. Behind us is a wall of stuff – everything I own that hasn’t been sold, donated or left at the dumpster has been strategically wedged into the trunk and back seat. Using every last inch of space, my backpack is shoved on the floor between Don’s legs and his backpack is on his lap.
“I pulled you over because you have a taillight out,” the officer says.
“Oh no!” I exclaim, aghast. “I just took the car in for service last week. I even had a bulb replaced. What a bummer.”
“I’m gonna let you go with a warning,” he says firmly. “You’ll need to get this taken care of first thing in the morning.”
“Oh, thank you! Yes, we will. First thing. Thank you, officer,” I reply.
The officer hands me back my license and registration and returns to his vehicle. I take a moment to compose myself, heart still racing. Yes, I did actually just say, “What a bummer” to a police officer. WTF. I am not a rule breaker. I’m not accustomed to run-ins with the law.
To take my mind off of the incident, Donovan and I invent car games that occupy the next two hours. We take turns naming the 50 states, mammals, fish, birds, and match actors with their films. As we approach Oklahoma City, our destination for the night, we encounter another snafu. We’d programmed Brenda, the female voice emanating from my GPS – which is British, of course – to take us to 100 Main Street, Oklahoma City.
This is Brenda. Or, this is what I imagine Brenda would look like, if, you know, she were real. (In fact, this is a sketch by a British artist, Hannah Barnes, called Portrait of a Woman with Rosy Cheeks.)
Following Brenda’s instructions, we exit the I-40 and end up on a toll road which, as it turns out, will lead us 24 miles out of our way - to Main Street - which was just a place marker we’d punched in because you can’t just type in a city – you need an actual address. Quickly realizing how far off course we were being led, we exit the toll road, get back on I-40 and search for the next sign that boasts Lodgings.
Brenda is no help locating the nearest Super 8. She’s recalculating at every turn like a dizzy broken record. “Recalculating. Recalculating.” I no sooner pull into the parking lot of a Waffle House to enter our new destination when I see the red and blue flashing lights behind me, again. Geezus! It’s now 1AM. We’ve been on the road for 10 hours. I am tired, frustrated and beyond frazzled. Luckily officer #2 is nice and also lets me off with a warning after running my license to see if I have any priors.
In two hours I was pulled over in two different states. Helluva night.
The next morning we manage to find a NAPA Auto Parts store (no thanks to Brenda) where I buy a taillight and Donovan installs it in the parking lot. Good thing he’s handy. (above: his rendition of the broken taillight and “wall of crap.”)
Then we continue on through Oklahoma…
Dine at Big Whiskey’s on President Clinton Ave in Little Rock, Arkansas…
…before stopping at the most run-down Super 8 of the trip in Memphis, TN. The door lock was jammed so the only thing keeping it “secure” was the latch. The window was also busted, remaining slightly ajar, allowing the cold wind to whistle in.
Donovan managed to rig a towel into the crevasse so we wouldn’t freeze to death in our sleep. Good times.
More stories and photos from the road to come…
I visited a few of my favorite spots in the days leading up to my departure from LA. I got my Chicken Tikka Masala fix at Agra Café on Sunset Blvd in Silver Lake, indulged in a Double-Double Animal Style with a Neapolitan shake at In-N-Out Burger, and scored one last croissant sandwich from the neighborhood joint located in a strip mall on the corner of Laurel Canyon Blvd/Moorpark St.
When I first moved to LA nearly four years ago, my roommate, Becky, turned me on to these sandwiches. I lived close enough to walk to the shop (a rare thing in LaLa) and I treated myself to one of these babies nearly every Saturday for months until I moved across town and scaled back to only the occasional treat.
The woman behind the counter, the owner and presumably a Buddhist, kept a small shrine of food offerings to the Buddha. She was friendly, always greeted me with a smile and knew my usual order by my third visit - Turkey and cheese on a croissant with mayo, shredded lettuce, tomato, and jalapeños; hold the onion. She knew me as “No onion” and I loved this. She made me feel at home. “Classic Donuts Coffee Croissant” was my “Cheers.”
Before the official road trip began, Donovan and I spent one last day sightseeing:
We ate breakfast at the popular Aroma Café on Tujunga Ave…
Drove to Malibu along the Pacific Coast Highway…
Dipped our toes in the Pacific Ocean (it was freezing, btw…)
Captured our shadows in the sand…
Rode the Ferris Wheel on the Santa Monica Pier…shared a Churro…walked along the 3rd Street Promenade…sat in traffic for 2 hours on our way into Hollywood for dinner at Sunset Thai…
Swung by Amoeba Music where Don stocked up on rare hip-hop CDs and I picked up The Clash’s “London Calling” for the road…
Made a pit stop back at my apartment to pack for an hour — you may notice that my dishes and glassware were wrapped with back issues of The New Yorker…
Then headed to Canter’s Kabitz Room on Fairfax for Tuesdays with the F.O.C.K.R.s (Friends of Canter’s Kabitz Room) who were celebrating Morty Coyle’s birthday. I literally rubbed elbows with Morty’s baby mama, Jodie Sweetin (a.k.a. Stephanie Tanner of “Full House” fame) as she was handing out slices of birthday cake.
It was a perfect day; we even caught the sun tucking itself into the seam in the horizon.
The next day we (and by “we” I mean Donovan) packed up the car, chock-a-block full of everything I own, minus the Boho-chic writing desk and bookshelf I sold, the sofa I donated to the Salvation Army and the pile of small appliances and cleaning products that simply wouldn’t fit.
I dropped the keys to my apartment in the building manager’s mail slot and said goodbye to Aqua Vista Street. So long, La-La. It’s been real.
More pics and stories from the road to follow…
“What?! You’re leaving LA to move back East?? In wintertime???” was one friend’s perplexed response after learning my plan to pack up the ol’ green Chevy and hit the road to Philadelphia. No one leaves Southern California, especially not in December. “You know that it snows on the East Coast, right?”
Last week I said goodbye to the clear blue skies of perpetually 83 degrees and sunny for the muted gray blanket of winter, driving cross country from Los Angeles to Grand Canyon, Arizona and Albuquerque, New Mexico, through Texas, Oklahoma, and Little Rock, Arkansas. It was 27 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill factor of 8°F by the time we reached Middle Tennessee. And it was snowing.
Having spent four years living in Syracuse as an undergrad, a region I half-jokingly refer to as the frozen tundra of Central New York, I am acquainted with harsh East Coast winters. Yet, somehow, cold always feels colder than in your memory, especially after four years blissfully unaware of such things out west.
I enlisted my cousin, Donovan, as my road trip companion. We’re both travelers, creative types - a writer and an artist - currently in similar places in our lives – on the threshold of some new phase, contemplating our next steps.
The seven days we spent on the road were transformative; both of us could sense that the journey marked the beginning of something. For one week, everything extraneous to our personal growth melted away and we existed in a pocket of the universe reserved for time travelers shedding old skin. The days blurred into one another as we passed through Pacific, Mountain, Central and Eastern Standard Time.
The route was mapped with target cities and requisite mileage to cover each day before we retired at the nearest Super 8 off of the Interstate 40, but we took our time exploring each new place. We sampled the local fare at Mom & Pop diners, reveled in Southern hospitality, invented car games, exposed one another to new music, talked for hours learning things about each other we otherwise wouldn’t, and left time each day for documenting our adventures in our journals and sketchbooks.
Donovan is a painter, printmaker and musician. Amused by his compulsive need to turn every surface into a canvas, I snapped several candid shots of him at work including drawing an intricate design on his pancakes with a syrup bottle at breakfast and sketching with a fingertip on the frosty fog-daubed window of our hotel room one morning.
In case you were wondering, that little guy’s saying, “HELP ME!!!” to passersby in the parking lot below.
More stories and photos from the road to come…
I love discovering new music, especially when it happens by accident. Yesterday I was alone in my apartment singing whatever happened to pop into my head. I never sing in front of other people, but I have a descent singing voice that I exercise regularly purely for my own entertainment. It helps to cut the quiet when I’m alone, and singing seems less crazy than talking to myself.
♫ “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens / Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens / Brown paper packages tied up with strings / These are a few of my favorite things…” ♫
Yes, it’s a slightly embarrassing song choice, but it’s important to the story of how I discovered POMPLAMOOSE. In a fleeting moment of fantasy, a daydream, I envisioned myself recording a cover version of the classic tune from THE SOUND OF MUSIC, putting my own spin on it. Since I don’t sing in public - not even karaoke - and I don’t play any musical instruments, I quickly snapped back to reality. But my curiosity was piqued and I wondered who had been brave enough, or talented enough, to record a cover. So I Googled: “favorite things.”
The video results caught my eye. I clicked on the first video with the female singer uploaded by PomplamooseMusic. The video began in black and white with a girl singing, then another panel of her singing was added, and another until she was harmonizing with herself A capella in triplicate on the screen. After the first verse, the video burst into color. All of the instruments and vocals were recorded by two people, Nataly Dawn and Jack Conte, then layered and edited together creating a dynamic, quirky sound and a unique visual style.
The duo known as Pomplamoose (a name derived from the French word for grapefruit – pamplemousse) have become an Internet sensation covering everything from Lady Gaga’s “Telephone,” and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” - each with over 5 million hits - to Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose” (in French) and my personal favorite, The Chordettes’ “Mister Sandman.” It’s hard to classify their sound but I’d say Pomplamoose is an Indie blend of Folk-infused Pop.
A few months ago, Pomplamoose collaborated with musician Ben Folds and author/lyricist Nick Hornsby on the song, “Things You Think.” Hornsby adds an interesting spoken word component to the tune, contributing facts and statistics about literature and book publishing. (Side note: I had the opportunity to see Ben Folds live in concert back in 2005. He often plays the piano while standing, pounding the keys with such intensity that he has to wear special Band-Aids on the ends of his fingertips to stop them from becoming a bloody mess on the ivories. It’s quite something.)
Now, go play on YouTube. Pomplamoose will keep you busy for a while.
Earlier this year, Pete Yorn asked his fans to create music videos for his song, Paradise Cove. Using existing footage, I edited this PY video mash-up featuring The Man himself and the lovely Scarlett Johansson. The video has a dreamlike ethereal quality to it and explores the themes of duality and perception of reality versus fantasy.