I was all ready to end my glowy recap of my LA trip with “And then I got home and we had a new president!” but alas. Mais non. Just four more years of the same bullshit. Ack. I actually picked a fight with my brother despite, or because, I totally didn’t know what I was talking about and was upset about the election. So Patrick, I’m sorry for yelling at you and insulting New England.
Anyway, to pick up where I left off last week, Kathy and I went to LA. I won this trip from a certain unnamed magazine two years ago, and I only got to take it last week. Better late than never, as the old saying goes, so Kathy and I were flown out (in coach — d’oh!) for 4 days/5 nights at the fancypant Mondrian Hotel. We were responsible for transport in LA (rental car), food, and any other hotel services we used. Which I understand if we went crazy raiding the mini-bar. But parking at the hotel, which cost $24 a night? I didn’t know we had to cover that until we got there, as I figured that was just included in the cost of the room. But I was wrong. Wily magazine staffers.
So the flight was uneventful — Kathy got the middle seat because the woman in the aisle seat wouldn’t move back a row to the totally empty seat behind her. Kathy thought the woman was travelling with another person in front of us, though I like to say she was just hot for Kathy’s booty. The movie was “Spider-Man 2”, which I have to say that I enjoyed more than the first one. Who knew Tobey Maguire could keep my interest? I try not to stare, as his huge eyes creep me out like those oil paintings of big eyed children. Kathy brought her laptop so we could watch DVDs on the plane. I ate the ‘bistro meal’, aka turkey sammich and chips from a cooler in the gate area, and watched ‘Sex and The City’ while Kathy read magazines.
We got in around 3:30, and it took us about an hour to get the rental car and drive to the hotel. The Mondrian is on Sunset, right at the very end of La Cienega as it wends up from Beverly Hills into West Hollywood. The drive up those last few blocks nearly gave me vertigo, and then we pulled into the hotel driveway, where valets clad in white sweatsuits took our bags and helped us into the lobby. It was LA Fashion Week, so the sleek Ian Schrager-designed lobby was full of underfed strangely dressed young women and men who spoke all sorts of languages, and very badly at that. I make up my mind to tell people, should they ask, that I’m covering Fashion Week for The Springfield Shopper. After checking in, we drive to Versailles for dinner. My chicken is pretty good, but Kathy’s pork makes me want to cry, it’s so good. Kathy turns in early, and I stay up late surfing the web (thank goodness for the hotel WiFi — too bad they charged me for that, too).
I woke up Thursday morning, and Kathy and I breakfast on Sunset. It’s trés chic — muffins and coffee at Starbucks. Then, my facial at agua — which was fine, but I think that my $45 student facial at the Aveda Institute a few months ago might have actually been a little better. The spa, like the hotel, was sleek and white. The spa staff were, for the most part, sleek and White, too. I barely fit into the robe they handed me, and my swollen feet (damn you, obesity) barely made it into the mesh slippers I wore while I read magazines and drank water. I will say this for the facialist, though — the head and shoulder massage was good. Maybe a little too good. Like I told a few of y’all last week, I imagined that instead of Malia massaging me it was Julian McMahon. Ow!
So naturally, after an hour of cleaning out my pores and drinking water, I go to In-n-Out Burger for lunch with Kathy.
(While we waited for the valet to get our car, we ogled the silly fashion types who also wait for their cars and I silently make fun of them. I was interrupted by Tichina Arnold, formerly of “Martin”, who drove up in a silver BMW. She parked, handed her keys to the valet, and checked in all while her cell phone was stuck to her head and she nattered on. Now that’s talent.)
We drove out to In-N-Out in Culver City so Celi could join us after class. However, traffic and windy streets were our undoing, so Victoria had to pick up her daughter instead of stuff her face with burgers. But the three of us managed to lunch pretty well without her. It was so great to be outside in the sunshine and eating in late October. After lunch, we went to the the mall. I bought this coat: so cute, and I got it for cheap with a coupon. I felt like I was on a roll — that, or the caffeine from my vanilla latte was kicking in — so I said sure to a trip to Banana Republic, where I scored some seriously cute earrings and an amazing lip balm that smells like orange blossoms, feels lighter than air, contains sunblock, and costs a measly $1.99. This lip balm is a revelation.
Oh stop laughing. Lip balm is a serious business.
I think Kathy and I were exhausted at the end of the day, so we just stopped at Ralph’s on the way back home to pick up some food for dinner. Walking through the lobby, still crowded with those skinny fashion chicks who, for narrow ass ho’s, do seem to take up a lot of motherfucking room, I took pride in the fact that we were most likely the first guests to rock shopping bags from Ralph’s supermarket. No, not Ralph Lauren, or Ralph Rucci. Fuck, not even Ralph Macchio. And yes, my cheese popcorn and sushi were delicious, thank you.
Friday. It seemed to be up to me to decide whether or not we were doing Disney or Universal. So I picked Disney, as my inner 8 year old was in charge of that decision. Instead of the 28 year old who was all “But Universal is, like, 10 minutes from your hotel! And it’s got an active backlot so maybe you’ll meet some cute actor type on a cigarette break between roller coasters!”
I dig Disney a little more, I must confess. I totally get sucked into the park, which really is another world, the happiest place on earth. We got a late start, but the park wasn’t superfull when we arrived, so no biggie, right? Maybe the crowds were smallish because, oh, about a slew of rides were closed for renovations or repair. The Matterhorn (which has always been closed whenever I’ve visited). Space Mountain. It’s A Small World. We started the day with Star Tours. Moved on to Innoventions, which was basically just a big rotating shill for HP, but whatevs — Kathy got to ride a Segway! Rode the Monorail, which wasn’t nearly as exciting as I thought it would be. No Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, no rides in Fantasyland at all, but we did wait for the Haunted Mansion, newly redone after ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’, and it was totally worth it. The mansion looked great with it’s new decorations, and Kathy and I got to people watch on the line. Lots of annoying teenage kids, and this fierce-ass Samoan woman, her three equally fierce daughters, and her little White boytoy. The Indiana Jones ride was fun, and Pirates of The Caribbean was closed. So onto the California Adventure across the way, which was alright (though, as Kathy’s friend, um, Kathy, pointed out, we didn’t really give it a shot). Though the flight simulator was super-fun. And the mini roller coaster. Mwa ha ha ha ha ha. Long drive back to Santa Monica for dinner at Victoria’s. We beat Victoria home from picking up her daughter at ballet, so we let ourselves in (she left the door unlocked! in a city! so crazy) and waited while Max Epstein waited with us.
Max Epstein is, of course, the family’s three year old beagle. Max is chill. Max sits with you, and will sit still to pose for pictures (none of mine came out, unfortunately). I love Max. I think Kathy liked him, too. Then Victoria and Edie came in, we all said hello, then we sat around while Victoria made us dinner (chicken marinated in Soy Vey, portobello mushrooms, peppers, rice), and we talked about Halloween costumes. According to Edie, the popular girls dressed as hookers. Soy vey, indeed! Celi came by after supper to take me to a costume party. Her friend Emily sat in the back, dressed as positive reinforcement — cape, tiara, ass-kicking boots. Celi was, in her words a 70s diva — huge Afro wig, glitter eyelashes, microphone cleavage. You can check her out here. The party was at a cute little house in Santa Monica. I met some of Celi and Emily’s classmates, checked out costumes and drank beer. Itar, the host who dressed as Ali G, projected music videos on the side of the house. We tried to dance along when “Thriller” came on, but I was satisfied to laugh and smoke and hang out. I slept at Celi’s, where Celi poked me while I tried to sleep. In the morning, Kathy came over (she had spent the night in Victoria’s guest room) and we drove back to the hotel, showered, and thought about what to do next.
1. Lunch: Noodle Planet in Westwood Village. We order a pile of Thai and Chinese and Vietnamese food that cost practically nothing and tasted like a million bucks.
2. Post-lunch constitutional: I stop at the Urban Outfitters and nearly buy a t-shirt with this printed on it: http://www.goodietwosleeves.com/samples/samples41.gif.
3. Dessert — we stop at a Haagen-Dazs where I get a Belgian chocolate milkshake. I nearly cry it is so good. Also, I mock the Eurotrash in front of us.
4. Getty — Drive to the museum is short and uneventful. As is the tram ride up the mountain. So you can forgive me for being a little shocked and, okay, dismayed, when I stop off the tram, pick up a map from the kiosk near the entrance, and I get nailed in the right tit by a pinecone. That’s right — a squirrel threw a pinecone at me and it nailed me right in the funbag.
Go ahead and laugh. I’ll wait.
So after that, the museum and its lovely paintings and gardens and such could not make up for the slight ache in my boob. Kathy and I rented the audio guide and wandered around. I took some pictures which came out. It was chilly, so we drove back to the hotel before it got dark, winding through the hills surrounding the hotel and taking the long way back on Sunset. Bel Air and its mysterious gated grounds. Westwood Village with its apartment buildings and Beverly Hills with its star map vendors and jogging trophy wives. We went up to the room, where I dressed in my new shiny coat for another costume party downtown while Kathy settled in for a night of movies in our peaceful room. The crowd roar from the House of Blues (which was just outside our window) was minimal. I was starving when Celi got me, so we drove to Canter’s where I could have a ham and cheese sandwich. Some skinny possibly Goth boys checked us out from a booth while I tried hard not to stare at an elderly woman with matted hair who seemed to collapse under the weight of her down parka. A middle-aged woman with similarly matted hair in a long sweater coat assisted her to the door. We ate quickly, then drove to the party. It wasn’t easy to find. We did manage to find Skid Row without even trying, though. Yeah, that was fun.
Parking a block away, we totter past another party to a loft full of more creatures — Frankenstein. A ninja (Martina’s boyfriend). An inflatable chubby ballerina. Little Red Riding Hood. An overtanned guy in a toga with his similarly melanin-loving girl. A couple and their baby in Chinese silk pajamas. We danced to 80s hits and ate too much candy. If there were any cute boys, I couldn’t tell because they were all in disguise. I would have liked to have dressed as Imelda Marcos, but I didn’t have the time or the hairspray to accomplish such a feat. The clock struck midnight, and I got tired very quickly, so Celi and Emily and I piled into the car and drove back to the west side.
Sunday dawned, and I finally got to meet Kathy’s former roommate Kathy. Kathy used to be a fancypants lawyer, but now teaches high school English and does witness consultation for fancy law firms. She is fucking hilarious, and kept me cracking up during breakfast (chicken quesadilla at Who’s On Third?), the drive up to her house (through Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and way up Benedict Canyon), and during post-breakfast chatter (cute house on Mulholland Drive with a killer view). She had to go back to work, so back to the hotel. Kathy suggested we check out Hollywood, which was kind of depressing. When I say Hollywood, I mean the strip of Hollywood Boulevard near the Chinese Theater, which was pretty cool. The Kodak Theatre has a huge mall attached, and the buildings are pretty well restored. But once you head east, the fancy shops (including the Museum of Erotica) give way to headshops that smell of sweat, Spanish fly, and desperation. It also didn’t help that the garage we parked in smelled of mulch and was housed in an office building that itself had not seen much action since, say, 1973. Needless to say, we got the fuck out of there and drove on to Santa Monica, which was like Hyde Park only with more stores. It was getting dark, so the Third Street Promenade full of families, trick-or-treaters, teenage couples, college students, old hippies, musicians. Kathy and I went around the corner to Taka Sushi, which already had a bunch of folks sitting at 6, when the place opens. So I took this to be a good sign. We had a few rolls, a few laughs, talked about boys and the foolishness of LA on Halloween. We drove home and packed. I chickened out of going to the party at Spybar, though celebrities were guaranteed (and confirmed by US Weekly, which came to my mailbox yesterday with pictures of Jessica Simpson at the Spybar party) and made it an early night. By that time, I was eager to get back to Chicago, get back to work, and see the country elect John Kerry to the US presidency.
Hmm. I knew I should have stayed in LA.
“Get a grip, people hate sissies. No one’s ever going to shag you if you cry all the time.” (Love, Actually)
Danger Mouse & DJ Jemini – What U Sittin’ On? (starring Cee-Lo and Tha Alkaholiks); My Morning Jacket – One Big Holiday
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasmine/sets/31715 — more pictures to be
posted next week