ROAD TO NOWHERE

“If anybody would like to join the first downtownster road to nowhere road trip I’ll be leaving Thursday or Friday,” I said to the meeting of the Marketing Round Table. “I don’t know where we’re going or when we’ll get there, but that’s the idea. And uh you could get on or off the trip at any time or place—providing that there is an airport of course.” NO TAKERS

Friday morning 4:30 a.m. the 1996 black Chevy Suburban docked at the curb of my childhood home in Montebello, CA—Montebello is Italian for beautiful hills. And it is from this very spot, that I have departed for many an adventure. I am fortunate to, over an excessively well-lived lifetime, have developed a number of friends who are willing to embark on such journeys. And I should be careful to mention here that some of these individuals were mere acquaintances or even less familiar at the time of departures, but traveling and adventure make for far greater bonds than the songs of fraternity boys in their beer soaked homes.

This particular morning it was to be my old high school buddy Mike Munoz picking me up. Although he went to West Point and achieved the rank of Colonel I still refer to him as my Mexican—I find this term of endearment more special than he does.

“The 15?” he asked. Continue reading ROAD TO NOWHERE

Grade School Memories ─ Dogbite

For Diane Schneider McArdle
 
At Colfax Avenue Elementary School in North Hollywood I had Mrs. Grover as my fifth-grade teacher.  Mrs. Grover was the most elderly, in appearance, of anyone who taught me before college with her fully grey head of thick hair and her leathery pruned face and old fashioned eyeglasses.  She was very alert though.  From any vantage point, she could spot the slightest nuance of a ten year-old’s mischief at any desk in her classroom.  I was pretty sure I could outrun her, if I could only get to the door first.

One day, the most attractive girl in our class, Diane Schneider, came to school with terrible scabs on her face.  The story circulated among the children in the class was: Continue reading Grade School Memories ─ Dogbite

The Flash Fiction of Catherine Coan

“This is really short short fiction”, I remarked to myself as I read the stories below by artist, poet, author and educator, Catherine Coan.  I was immediately inspired to compose short introductions à la Rod Serling.   “Imagine if you will…”

The first of the three featured stories speaks to the collapse of the real estate market, and the great bargains to be had for buyers with cash in hand.  As readers will discover, however, getting that “dream house” may be more complicated than that.

Hummingbird Nest Ranch

Sotheby’s: Was $75,000,000, Just Reduced to $5,995,000. Recession Special!

HUMMINGBIRD NEST RANCH. The finest world-class equestrian estate on approximately 123 acres, built in 2004, just 40 minutes from Beverly Hills! Beautiful Mission Revival-style mansion (approximately 17,000 square feet, designed by Richard Robertson). Approximately four of the 123 acres boast a Native American burial site!

The three-level main house has thick stucco walls, copper gutters, a courtyard succulent garden with an aggressive fifteen-foot carnivorous plant, and a Spanish-style roof.

There are five bedrooms plus attached guest quarters, an office, a cabana, two heated pools, a twelve-person Jacuzzi, and a gazebo. Luxury details include paver tile floors, decorative tile work around the windows, wood-beamed ceilings, and a state-of-the-art French kitchen in red lacquer and stainless!

Surrounding the main house are three guest houses, ten staff houses, and substantial hunter-jumper equestrian facilities including an international grand prix arena (600×300 feet); rubber-and-sand mixed ring (300×250 feet); derby grass field (650×250 feet); large main barn (approximately 20,000 square feet) with 37 stalls (14×14 feet), six grooming stalls, two wash stalls, vet office, and farrier’s workshop and quarters! In one of the stalls lives a man with a human body and horse head (Palomino) named Carl who does not wear clothes and will not leave. But, again, the stainless and red lacquer kitchen. Also, derby grass field! Continue reading The Flash Fiction of Catherine Coan

He Knew Her – Or Did He?

My parents were classical music enthusiasts so I grew up familiar with the works of many of the great composers. Had you asked me, I would have said that I knew Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, the Pastoral. Then, a few years back, my son-in-law Max directed me to an audio program in which a wonderful music teacher discussed the piece. 

This led me to an “Aha!” moment.  I certainly recognized the Pastoral and thought I was familiar with it.  But after hearing the discussion I realized that I never really did know it until then.  Since then, I hear the music with greater appreciation, admiration and humility. 

One of the things I love about studying the Bible is that there are continual “Aha!” moments.  No matter how many times I study a passage, each reading reveals new and deeper insights.  Usually it is the original Hebrew that points me to more profound meaning. Continue reading He Knew Her – Or Did He?

MOVIE REVIEW: MY ONE AND ONLY

How many of you out there don’t know who George Hamilton is?  Betcha most of you are more than familiar with him.  Some generations may remember Hamilton as an okay actor from Hollywood’s golden years in the 50’s.  Others, for his fun and devil-may-care persona he exhibited during the 70’s celebrity game show blitzkrieg.  Most recently, you may know him for his very entertaining stint on “Dancing With The Stars”, an over-the-top hysterically funny performance in “L.A. Riot Spectacular” or his self-deprecating comedic ads that always manage to incorporate his perennially perfect tan into the product pitch.  Or is it his penchant for always having a gorgeous woman on his arm, from Liz Taylor to Alana Stewart?  For myself, Hamilton represents one of the last bastions of Hollywood in its heyday and an era with manners, elegance, a little mystery, style and above all, class.  But what is it that makes Hamilton, Hamilton?  So suave, so debonair, so dynamic, so diverse and above all, so tenacious so as to adapt, survive and even flourish in the ever changing mecca of Hollywood and the entertainment industry.  The answer my friends may be found this week with the opening of MY ONE AND ONLY. Continue reading MOVIE REVIEW: MY ONE AND ONLY

TASHA TAYLOR REVISITED

The art era of the roaring 80’s had come to an end and the last of a visual empire sat in the final throes of death on Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills. The Rodeo Drive, of the time of which I speak, was a quaint place where a young man like myself could open a fine gallery and sell hundreds of millions worth of oil on canvas by the great ones of the past. I recall now the feeling of walking from the front door to the sidewalk, late at night, long past retail closing times, and staring at the beautiful tree of lights, which watched over the Drive from its nonexistent planter atop the Regent Beverly Wilshire—it was the month of December. So peaceful those final days were I could bring myself to do nothing, but stand on the street for an hour and enjoy the solitude—there was just the right chill in the air.

I no longer recall how it came to pass that Johnnie Taylor’s kid came to wander the last of my galleries, but there was something special about her—black and lovely on the outside, a true Jewish Princess on the inside. And a touch of bitchiness that I was sure would make for many forks in the road. Again, as all who have lived twenty-seven lives during the course of one, I have no recollection how or why Tasha Taylor came into tow, but she did. From galleries to clubs to dinners to my home she was around. The daughter of a soul legend aspiring, like so many young girls do, to become an actor.

And then there was the night at the Mondrian on Sunset, the old Mondrian owned by the Ashkenazy’s, Severyn and Arnold, the first time it was cool—before the skybar. An open mic night it was that Tasha got up from the table and sang. The song still plays in my consciousness, I do not recall all of the words, but humming the melody out loud is enough to utter, “these are a few of my favorite things”—“My Favorite Things” was what Tasha Taylor sang that night. “Forget about acting,” I told her, “you should be a singer. It’s in your blood.”

The entire story, not worth telling, ends with the end of our friendship.

Almost fifteen years later the iphone received a most interesting text message. Rick Taub, a downtownster of many years and a very good bass player, was informing me that Tasha Taylor would be throwing down some serious soul at the Redwood on 2nd between Hill and Broadway—no cover! Life is so pleasantly interesting for those who bother to live it. Continue reading TASHA TAYLOR REVISITED

Got More Poetry

A reminder to poetry lovers, Pharmaka has “The Third Area” poetry reading featuring four poets with wine and noshes on Thursday, August 27th.  Below the info are two poems new to downtownster by famous Persian poets.

Pharmaka Gallery
101 West 5th Street (corner of 5th and main)
Los Angeles
(213) 689-7999
“The Third Area” poetry reading series at Pharmaka takes place on the last Thursday of every month at 8p.m.

We proudly present poetry by poets who have read at Pharmaka this summer.  They are both Iranian expatriates.

Butcher Shop

a poem by Sholeh Wolpé

Aisha was gunned down
in her father’s butcher shop.
She was twenty-four, a virgin,
had a cat named Hanna.
 
The boys in black bandanas
the ones with large dark eyes
that devour light
wanted her brother.
 
And what better place for blood
than a butcher shop
where it already covers
the counters, stains the white aprons,
is sold in long red sausages. Continue reading Got More Poetry

Artwalkin’ with Stan ’n’ Al

This morning I am writing in pain.  That’s better than writhing in pain, but in this case, they are not far apart.  I was involved in a single-pedestrian accident on the sidewalk in front of Arty gallery last night.  The official report states that alcohol was not a contributing factor.  The victim had a blood-alcohol content of 0.02%.  Witnesses state that the victim, who wore a cheap hat, tripped on uneven sidewalk paving and fell face first onto the cement where, shocked, he briefly groaned in agony.  He was carrying a bag, the contents of which spilled onto the sidewalk revealing a signed copy of Stan Lerner’s Criminal.  The sole blame for the accident lay in the victim’s operation of his feet. Continue reading Artwalkin’ with Stan ’n’ Al

DOWNTOWN LA FILM FESTIVAL BEGINS

As my thirtieth year approached I sat in my building known as ARTGUILD LA, a building that hosted some of the world’s best-known performance art and nightclub events. If I recall, it was Eden Night, ranked second in the world only to Ministry of Sound, and my friend David Besharat a truly extraordinary human being said something I’ve never forgotten. “You see Stan, at your age you’ve just starting to do everything twice. At my age, I’ve done everything three times—it’s not the same. It’s still good, but every time around it’s a little less exciting.” And the party raged on…

And now I’m David’s age, at the time of his wise words to me, and I’ve done everything once, twice, and thrice. But unlike the last century there is another bugaboo in my dream party life—lack of originality. Has everything been done? The new generation could be called Gen Zero, for zero innovation. “And most disturbing, they seem to think that these watered-down knockoffs of what artists, producers and promoters of the past have done are actually cool. If they could have just seen the original,” I think to myself so often when I’m out in the scene.

Enter the Downtown LA Film Festival. Did the world need another film festival? Surprisingly, at least judging by last night’s screening of “Passing Strange” and Opening Gala at the AT&T Center—YES! I’ve lived in Downtown for almost fifteen years and had no clue whatsoever that the building formerly know as the Trans America Tower had an incredible theater, albeit vintage 1970’s. And if for no other reason, introducing this gem of a venue to a thousand or so people, made this second annual DFFLA worth having. But there’s more… Continue reading DOWNTOWN LA FILM FESTIVAL BEGINS

MOVIE REVIEW: IT MIGHT GET LOUD

Things will definitely get a little bit loud with the rockumentary IT MIGHT GET LOUD, a sit down with three generations of rock legends, guitarists Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), The Edge (U2) and Jack White (White Stripes).  Three very different gentlemen.  Three very different backgrounds.  Three very different styles.  One common passion.   This is one room in rock ‘n roll heaven.

Director Davis Guggenheim could have done no better than his subject selection so Page, White and The Edge.  Each represents a significant era in music history.  For Page, he has been around since the advent of rock-n-roll and, thank heaven, heavy metal.  White, celebrates the bluesey-ness of the depression era but moves forward and vacillates into the angry punk era or the 80’s without compromising his musical skills, knowledge or talent.  The Edge is the epitome of melding talent and technology. Continue reading MOVIE REVIEW: IT MIGHT GET LOUD