Monthly Archives: October 2006

Dia de los Muertos

Arg here, feeling much the worse for wear on this foully sunshiney day, my eyes hurt!  I am currently squinting at the computer screen, and making my vow here before everyone that never, never again will I be talked into tequila shots, so help me god.  The tequila hangover is the worst hangover of them all, it could only have been satan put that bottle of poison on our table…The only good thing about today is that the hour changed!  And I don’t have to work…

So, day of the dead!  One of my favourite holidays where you celebrate those who have died, you go and keep them company at their graves, you build them altars, and bring them food and drink.  The graveyards of my loved ones are spread far and wide across continents and oceans, but it is nice to pull out photographs and things that remind you of them and just…remember them.  And remember that your own death is coming, so you’d better get cracking on living life fully and well and start doing all of those things you’ve been putting off for one reason or another.  Just make sure it does not involve cheap tequila…only the very expensive kind that you can drink like water, gives you no hangover and can most easily be found in Jalisco.

Went to Hollywood Forever Cemetary yesterday for the festivities, usually I hit Self-Help Graphics in East Los for the party, but the cemetary was really quite fantastic.  One of my friends was performing, so we saw her jarocho group play, then wandered about taking everything in.  We did miss Peter Lorrie’s grave, tragic that, but I might go back for a bit more of a wander, it’s a crazy place!  I’m off now to lie in a dark room and watch father ted, talk about living life well…

Sleeplessness

Sleeplessness

I own so many books, they sit multi-coloured on shelves surrounding me, old friends and friends waiting to be discovered, but I only want one and cannot find it, I am in a mood, finding myself in the early hours of the morning unable to sleep, sadness sits like a weight of sand on my rib cage and the back of my neck hurting my shoulders, everything is heavy, I am pinned down though my mind races and cannot still itself, I wanted poetry and Shelley to be specific. I wanted the dead leaves of my thoughts to be scattered, ashes and sparks, among mankind…this is all I can remember of his song for autumn and I went searching, looking for words to express feelings, funny how sadness perfectly expressed by another is perfect company for your own, and I want company. I have none but my own words, other’s words written upon paper, and a face in the mirror that I hardly recognize, the haunted look in my reflection’s eyes foreign and strange. A single cricket sings from outside… My days are unmoored, time does not ride easy…it jolts in fits and starts and all my thoughts are of leaving, running far away, and I am not at all myself at the moment, haven’t a glimmer of humour to lighten the mood.

Clamor & Craziness

It’s late, not too late but I just want to write now so I don’t forget anything, not sure how I’ll be doing in the morning…the minor question on my mind is shall I be up at 6:00 am to play golf?

So, Clamor event was, in a word, surreal, one of those evenings to go down in the yearbooks, and Ludin came!  But before I get into that just wanted to remember another fav eating spot, el rincon chileno, it’s a great chilean restaurant right next to a little chilean deli that sells empanadas and really good chilean wine really cheap, and caramel in jars and T-shirts that say Chile and the staff call you mija which means little daughter, and it looks like this…

I forgot to eat today, so we dropped by before setting up for some empanadas and a cachito (pastry and caramel dusted with confectioners sugar – yum!) which last I also forgot to eat and am now realizing with terrible regret is still sitting on a battered table at Il Corral which is truly a tragedy.

So, Il Corral is a tiny underground place where some musicians live and they let people put on shows, and so here’s a photo of one of tonight’s acts…Cookie Jar is the guy in the pink dress (he had already lost the fairy wings and pink boa sadly), they were really quite entertaining.  And please note the stuffed, er, raven?  On the wall.  And the rope hanging down from the ceiling, it’s for swinging.

Next up was…was…it shall come to me…experimental though, highly experimental, and that’s about all I can really say about it.  A cello with much foot pedal action, high sustained humming noises, something that sounded suspiciously like a jack hammer, the guitar making low moaning noises.  Our slide show was in the background, a hit with the cool fugazi lyrics and photos of slum conditions and adds for the new lofts coming into downtown…looking something like this…

but the unforgettable bit was meeting Tomatoes and friend, can’t believe I forgot the friend’s name, terrible thing to do, but before I go into their lovable characters I shall let you see them in the flesh…my coworker Lidia is on the left, she’s a character as well, but not quite in the same way.

It is indeed a bit hard to believe…When Tomatoes wandered in the front door of Il Corral as I was sitting there with Bev minding the cash box, he asked me if his outfit was all right…I told him as long as the trousers stayed on he was just fine, I just had to say it, they were already at half-mast.  They didn’t stay on in the end, but I shall get to that later.  You can’t tell but he’s also wearing a red cape that sparkles.  I wandered outside a bit later to smoke (I was drinking don’t you know, and Bobby and Lidia were pushing cigarrettes) – which is when above photo was taken, and Tomatoes was saying that he had been doing coke all night the night before, and it had been a really bad idea.  His friend was drinking something called Sparks which was funnier, I’ve never heard of it before, but it comes in a can that looks like a battery and is essentially carbonated cough syrup with malt liquor.

So, why is Tomotoes called Tomatoes?    Apparently his friends from the barrio in Houston Texas gave it to him because of his rosy cheeks.  He is sometimes called pureed tomatoes because apparently he used to be a skater but was a really bad one and so he had quite a lot of accidents.  He really likes getting his picture taken, I was racking my brains after I first saw him come in about how to get one tactfully, but there was no need for tact!  And then Lidia started him talking about his tattoos and that’s when he dropped his pants, dear oh dear.  So I have a great photo of him with pants down and lidia bending over to inspect his legs, but I have decided in Tomatoes’ best interests not to post that.  I quite liked him actually, he was a very happy and mostly respectful drunk and I imagine meeting Cheech and Chong back in the day wouldn’t be much different.  let us just say that he was wearing some kind of silver bikini thong sort of thing…Bev and I are both agreed that boxers are really the only repectable underwear for men, I mean, you can wear the other kind but it really does detract from your image.  That’s an aside, I shall just leave you with one last glimpse of this facsinating man…he wanted this picture to be a good one…sultry, beer gut sucked in, I think both of us did all right:

And to cap off the evening, as we were standing outside a group of about 15 mariachis came ambling by, softly strumming their instruments and singing bits of sad songs, which made tonight a truly LA experience.  I tried to get a shot but Tomatoes kept jumping into it.  Ah well, after a bit of chatting with the other folks there and a little clean-up we packed up my laptop and the projector and drove on home…

The Pogues

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

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

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

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

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LA for Parents II

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

Anyways, here is the getty from the gardens:

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

what is she doing?  What?

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

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

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

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

LA for Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gehry’s Concert Hall

Ahh, so sweet, the parents are all tuckered out and taking a nice little nap before dinner and leaving me to my own devices…The concert this afternoon was magnificent!  It’s an amazing place, the Disney Hall, every sound incredibly chrystal clear…You can sit back and let the symphony just wash over you, and put effort into separating the voices of each section in the orchestra while at the same time holding the whole sound in your head…I’ve never been in a place with accoustics like that, I shall be going regularly I believe.  I didn’t take this photo cause none are allowed, it’s from the website:

We had Hayden first, Symphony No. 82 in C major “the Bear” and it was beautiful, then a contemporary piece by Dean who performed on the Viola…I have to confess ignorance and say that I did not understand it, and did not like it at all, and while prepared to admit that it is very possibly because I don’t understand, am not sure I shall put effort into it.  The last was Modest (!) Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition, which was incredible and received a mostly standing ovation.  He wrote it originally for the piano, but Ravel set it for the orchestra and while intrigued with the thought of hearing it on one instrument, I can’t imagine it could be half as good.  It even featured a tuba!  Tubas just make me smile, I find them instruments of infinite comic genius, and after writing this shall look up when, where, and how on earth they came to be!  It also featured oboes, my favourite instrument, and an incredible horn solo which was carried out to perfection.

So had my dad sitting next to me, he enjoyed it immensely.  That did not stop his bad behaviour however, he likes to affectionately refer to himself as curmudgeonly but i have to say, I could think of other terms.  Still, I think he enjoyed the gift of tickets, and he loved the concert hall when we wandered about during intermission.  It is an incredible building, makes me feel almost kindly towards Eli Broad who mostly paid for it.  Days like today make me feel a bit schizophrenic, because I have a foot and a piece of myself in one world, and the rest of me out on the street with the people sleeping there…I can’t seem to reconcile the two, I suppose they should not be reconciled while injustice exists, poverty and beauty will probably live uneasily side by side as they have done through the ages, it is a tragedy that we cannot reconcile them.  Classical music is one of the few things that can make me cry, it has this unearthly beauty when it reaches perfection… the other things that make me cry are marches, movies, men, and the tears of people I care about…curious that four of those things start with the letter M.  My brother Michael has also made me cry on many an occasion, this m thing might be a discovery of some significance!