Category Archives: People

STAN LERNER aka Chef STAN 2012

As 2012 came to an end, I couldn’t help but to wonder if writing about one’s self, as I am about to do, is worthy of anyone’s attention, even my own. For most of my life, my ego drove a steadfast belief that I had something to say to the world, something that people should hear. I even came to believe that there might be value to be found in my shortest musings over current events. I do not believe these things to be true any longer. Now, if and when I write, I only do so because it is what I do; I cook, I write, I breathe, I sleep, all things that I do, not one more important or less than any of the others. Do I hope that people enjoy the fruits of my labor, of course I do. And over the last few years, I have found this to be a real happiness…

It was a cold January morning, 17 degrees if I recall, when I left Guthrie Oklahoma and headed for my childhood home in California. Continue reading

A BLOGSIDE CHAT WITH JAN PERRY

FOREWORD BY STAN LERNER: downtownster does not celebrate its first birthday until February, but I still feel compelled to post the TEN BEST downtownster blogs of 2009. And while I think all of our blogs have been great, these are the ones that readers read the most and gave us the highest level of props for writing. The idea of a blogside chat with extraordinary people like Jan Perry proved to be blogging at its best. And I predicted Jan would be running for Mayor in print, before anyone else–go figure!

<Click Here: To Buy Books By Stan Lerner> 

Jan Perry A Blogside Chat

It is late at night or early in the morning, hour fifteen of work has passed by some hours ago, and as the quiet of the night will often lead me to, I find myself reflective. My screenwriting obligations have precluded me from blogging the past few weeks as much as I would liked to have, but many of downtownster’s twenty-four writers / soldiers of truth and enlightenment, have made up the difference. And to them I say, THANK YOU.

<Click Here: To Buy Books By Stan Lerner> 

The fact that I have not posted more than a piece or two a week does not however mean that I have been remiss in working on stories. Admittedly, I am backlogged, there is simply more to write about than I have time in the day and that would be true even if I were not busying myself with two screen adaptations and a television pilot. But one story must begin and that is the story of something I think to be unique to downtownster—I call it the blogside chat.

<Click Here: To Buy Books By Stan Lerner> 

We live in challenging times. And if we are to be honest with our collective selves, most generations can claim such. Of course the challenges differ from generation to generation, but almost all are challenged nontheless. What are our difficulties? How are they resolved? These are questions that should be first and foremost on all Americans’ minds. The answers to these questions and their many tangents are rooted in our ability to communicate with each other. And for the purpose of this blog, and all to come, it is imperative to recognize that communication begins with understanding the concept of common reality.

<Click Here: To Buy Books By Stan Lerner> 

Think of concentric circles at the middle of which is the greatest common reality. The one thing we can all agree on—perhaps gravity. I know of no one that will step off the roof of the fifteen-story building, which I live in to prove me wrong. Interestingly, those who believe that they can fly without the help of modern invention are usually considered to have broken from sanity—they no longer share in the same common reality as the rest of the world around them. The results of an individual jumping from a building such as mine, arms flapping to no avail, are not comical—they are ruinous. And such is the fate of a society that has lost its ability to communicate and broken with itself.

<Click Here: To Buy Books By Stan Lerner> 

Today, it is incumbent on leaders, and those with vision to communicate their ideas in the way that people not only want to hear but trust and understand. The great leaders of times past wrote and delivered speeches. Washington, Lincoln, Churchill, and King all delivered leadership and vision with their words. Their words, the people knew these men through their words. In person, in print, on radio, on film, on television, past generations heard their leaders in their own words and they trusted and understood them.

<Click Here: To Buy Books By Stan Lerner> 

And because downtownster is nothing if not intensely interested in all things—I started floating the idea to the business and political leaders of our world that we’d like to chat. Not interview—CHAT. An invitation, if you will, to speak to people in the way that they now listen. BEWARE: no recorded speeches, written by someone else, with no opportunity to be questioned will be passed off as real communication on downtownster.

<Click Here: To Buy Books By Stan Lerner> 

Imagine an ongoing dialogue, that can take hours at a time to have, taking place in public places, sometimes over a meal and sometimes over coffee—my drink. Imagine a person of power in business or politics that is willing to talk to you, albeit through downtownster, no speeches, no teleprompters, no handlers, no questions in advance, no ground rules. Clearly, this person has said much about themselves before saying anything to us at all. But be sure much more will be said.

<Click Here: To Buy Books By Stan Lerner> 

Because much of Downtown is encompassed by the 9th District, let us put this fact into a greater perspective, Downtown Los Angeles is the heart of the biggest city, in the largest state, of the most powerful nation on Earth, I could not think of someone better to chat with than 9th District City Councilwoman Jan Perry. Continue reading

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

The Cove Interview

You all probably remember, or at least know of, the beloved television series “Flipper.”  An integral part of the success of “Flipper” was Richard O’Barry who, in the 1960′s was the world’s leading authority on dolphin training. The Flipper lagoon, dock and house were actually O’Barry’s and it’s where he trained and cared for the dolphins who took turns playing Flipper. Well cared for and free to swim in open waters, it all came to a screeching halt with the cancellation of the tv show and the dolphins being sent to a seaquarium.  It was there that O’Barry’s special dolphin, the one who played the majority of Flipper scenes, Kathy, died in his arms. Continue reading

EXCLUSIVE: INTERVIEW WITH BUZZ ALDRIN

As we all know (or should know), July 19, 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of “one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon.  Kicking off the 40th anniversary year last summer was the enchanting  3D animated fantasy film on that infamous mission, FLY ME TO THE MOON, that combined history, complete with NASA technology, blue print drawings, audio and Dr. Buzz Aldrin himself,  with a fanciful tale of three adventurous little flies that stowaway on Apollo 11 and share in the magic and wonder of this turning point in history.  FLY ME TO THE MOON is now available in 3D on DVD. Continue reading

A BLOGSIDE CHAT WITH SONNY ASTANI

PART II

Foreword by Stan Lerner: the concept / purpose of a blogside chat is to develop a conversational relationship with extraordinary people such as City Councilwoman Jan Perry and mega developer / philanthropist Sonny Astani—and others to come in the near future. It is my personal belief that one of the great contributing factors to much of what ills our culture, society, and country today are invisible walls, which stand between politicians, CEO’s, spiritual leaders, and the people. Of equal concern are the walls that also seem to be between—rich, middle class, poor, gay, straight, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Republican, and Democrat. It is my hope that PART 2 of my chat with Sonny Astani will be yet another downtownster step toward removing these walls… 

As I sat with Sonny Astani at Starbucks LA Live and talked about Downtown, I couldn’t help but to be impressed by how much he cared for the community. We spoke a bit about his ten-year plan; he’s an engineer so of course he has a ten-year plan for Downtown. My mind wandered to the fact that I rarely have a ten-day plan, which is probably why I’m not the one building a thirty-story tower on Figueroa. Anyway, at this point I asked him about the seventeen million dollar donation he had made to USC, the one and a half million dollar donation to the Skid Row Housing Trust (which helps the chronically ill homeless), and the donation of close to two million dollars to the battered women’s shelter.

Remember, Sonny Astani is a serious man. And for readers who have yet to read Part One of this blogside chat, by serious, I mean more steak than sizzle. He usually dresses in dark attire, he’s physically fit (50’s), and he speaks with a deep voice that pronounces words with a casual blend of humility, confidence, and cordiality.

“I didn’t want people to think I just came Downtown to make money. I wanted to make sure that Downtown becomes a better place…See at USC it’s important that students learn how to build the cities of the future.” He moved his hands around in a circular motion in front of him as if he could visualize and outline the perimeter of the city of the future. “We really have to think about quality of life and sustainability….”

“Skid Row?”

Sonny tilted his head slightly as if to say that this was nothing. Continue reading

Reflections on the Life of Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was the greatest dancer who was also a major singing star ever.  To find his equal you’d have to look at the two biggest dancing stars in film history, Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire.  (Michael reputedly idolized Mr. Astaire and was deeply moved when he was told by him personally that he was a “great dancer”.)  Mr. Kelly and Mr. Astaire, though popular as singers, could not be considered big singing stars. Continue reading

A BLOGSIDE CHAT WITH SONNY ASTANI PART ONE

A Blogside Chat With Sonny Astani

Concerto: an instrumental work that highlights a soloist.

Councilwoman for the 9th district Jan Perry graced downtownster’s first blogside chat. Jan, as we’ve come to know her, was an easy choice because her district is, as previously stated, the core of the biggest city in the largest state in the most powerful country on Earth.

Sonny Astani is a real estate developer, he owns the best location in the biggest city in the largest state in the most powerful country on Earth and he’s built a place for people to live there—Concerto (9th & Fig).

For almost 14 years I have dwelled in the building known as The Skyline (9th & Flower), which for the last two decades laid undisputed claim to the best address in South Park. Over the years I wondered if anyone would ever have the vision and courage to develop the sprawling parking lot immediately to the east of The Skyline’s elegant landscape. And then the word came one day that the empty parcel had been bought. With a signature, thirty million dollars was paid and the end came to a woeful parking lot too long the symbol of unmotivated land speculation. This struck a note.

An optimist by nature I just assumed something worthy would be built, and then proceeded with my own existence. So elated was I over Ralphs opening for business opposite my own abode I hardly noticed the asphalt being broken and carted off one block down. The good times were at their peak when I did notice the fence and deep hole—a lot of costly to move expensive earth had been displaced. And then there was a very tall crane from which a banner hung, which read Astani—and a second note sounded; this one more profound than the first. A plethora of individuals can buy, but few can build. Continue reading

A Blogside Chat–Jan Perry

A Blogside Chat With City Councilwoman Jan Perry 

It is late at night or early in the morning, hour fifteen of work has passed by some hours ago, and as the quiet of the night will often lead me to, I find myself reflective. My screenwriting obligations have precluded me from blogging the past few weeks as much as I would liked to have, but many of downtownster’s twenty-four writers / soldiers of truth and enlightenment, have made up the difference. And to them I say, THANK YOU.

The fact that I have not posted more than a piece or two a week does not however mean that I have been remiss in working on stories. Admittedly, I am backlogged, there is simply more to write about than I have time in the day and that would be true even if I were not busying myself with two screen adaptations and a television pilot. But one story must begin and that is the story of something I think to be unique to downtownster—I call it the blogside chat.

We live in challenging times. And if we are to be honest with our collective selves, most generations can claim such. Of course the challenges differ from generation to generation, but almost all are challenged nontheless. What are our difficulties? How are they resolved? These are questions that should be first and foremost on all Americans’ minds. The answers to these questions and their many tangents are rooted in our ability to communicate with each other. And for the purpose of this blog, and all to come, it is imperative to recognize that communication begins with understanding the concept of common reality.

Think of concentric circles at the middle of which is the greatest common reality. The one thing we can all agree on—perhaps gravity. I know of no one that will step off the roof of the fifteen-story building, which I live in to prove me wrong. Interestingly, those who believe that they can fly without the help of modern invention are usually considered to have broken from sanity—they no longer share in the same common reality as the rest of the world around them. The results of an individual jumping from a building such as mine, arms flapping to no avail, are not comical—they are ruinous. And such is the fate of a society that has lost its ability to communicate and broken with itself.

Today, it is incumbent on leaders, and those with vision to communicate their ideas in the way that people not only want to hear but trust and understand. Continue reading

Helena Gullstrom and The Loft

and Shannon Logan

Foreword by Stan Lerner: when I received an email from Jennifer, that would be Helena’s publicist, I was impressed by what I saw—a picture of Helena. Being me, I called this Jennifer publicist and arranged to meet her and Helena at Helena’s loft wonderland. Jennifer turned out to be a nice counterpart to Helena and before I knew it there was another attractive publicist, more people / friends and drinks going on at Varnish. Helena was nice enough to drive me home, I was wounded from drinking and having a bad case of the flu, and although I was out of sorts I promised to send one of my best people to do a downtownster story as I had failed to do anything more than drink and jabber. Time whizzed along, but I did not forget about this incredible artist. Finally, I sent not one, but two of my best downtownsters to tell the story that I had promised to bring to our blog. It goes like this:

I am a lover of the natural world. Paradise to me is dozing off in a hammock after picking berries and walking my dog, surrounded by organic lines, fluid light filled spaces, and kinetic sculptures. When Shannon and I walked into Helena Gullstrom’s studio The Loft in the trendy Santa Fe apartment building on Main, it was a stark contrast to the natural paradise I found years ago in my backyard. Helena’s creative space was a strange, manmade world of angular shapes and industrial materials. An urban paradise.

But we were a little too early for a tour of paradise that day. Certainly too early for artists who were peacefully sleeping off Memorial Day Weekend, while waiting for two nosy bloggers to arrive. Our eager knocks on Helena’s door were met with silence. So we grabbed coffee and a slice of pie at Blu Café, and a few minutes later went back up the elevator for a second attack.

Helena answered the door this time. Light from large windows illuminated the dual-purpose space, which functions as both a hair salon and artist’s loft. Flaxen haired mannequins and mirrors on one end, sculpture and paintings on the other. Helena, even on the tail end of a nap, was full of contagious energy. Continue reading