Tag Archives: los angeles

THE MUSLIM AND THE JEW

In a time, seemingly long ago, a time before the fax machine, cell phone, and Internet there was a great metropolis called Los Angeles. And this metropolis, because of its year-round pleasant weather and friendly inhabitants attracted people from all over the world who wanted to visit and in many cases move to such a wonderful and welcoming place. This is a tale of two people of this time and place, one a native, strong and sure, the other, a well-mannered visitor from half a world away, both young men the details of which concerning them, once told, will forever change the world—the year was 1982…

Sam sat with two of his new fraternity brothers at their favorite falafel place in the heart of Westwood Village, laughing and eating an amount of food one might expect to be ordered by a much larger party. Sam, although a freshman at the great institution of higher learning known as UCLA, had already established a reputation for having an enormous appetite—not just for food, but for all things. In most students, a prodigious appetite for all things worldly would give others pause, however Sam was without having to say so, different. He came to the University with credentials, which established him as not only possessing the greatest of athletic prowess, but an academic record and intellect unequalled in all of the land. Yet, he thought little of these matters. And on the rare occasion on which he spoke of his gifted state of being he would only say, “Someone cannot take credit for that, which they haven’t earned. God did not make all men with equal abilities, but God did make all men and therefore we are all equal, in that, all is owing to God.” And then he usually continued, “Anyone up for some pizza and a movie?”

“So are you going to the game this weekend?” asked Val, a tall, thin, young adult of Romanian descent.

Sam nodded, still chewing on a bite of falafel. “I have a ton of homework I haven’t started on, but that’s never stopped me.”

Steve, a premed student with grades and a physique second only to Sam’s shook his head. “I don’t know how you do it? You’ve been out every night since orientation. And you drink cocktails during your lectures…”

Sam chuckled. “Oh c’mon, I did that once or twice. I don’t condone drinking,” he poured some Jack Daniels from a small bottle into his Diet Coke and continued, “in lectures. And on a serious note: it’s more important to feel information than to know it. Anyone can memorize names and dates, Steve—the what’s of the world. But the why’s of the world, that’s where true wisdom is found. By the way is this baba ghanoush great or what?”

And as naturally as the conversation had been flowing between the three fraternity brothers it stopped, as all three sets of highly intelligent eyes came to rest on the not so large figure, which stood before them—something like none had seen before, a slight of build Arab boy with a large suitcase in each hand.

“Excuse me,” he said in perfect English, with a tone more polite than the fraternity brothers had ever heard. “I’ve lost all of my money and I’m very hungry and you seem to have a large amount of food, can I trouble you for a small portion, just a little bit?” And before they could answer he continued, “I come from a very wealthy family—I’ll be able to pay you back for whatever you give me,” he concluded with a confident smile and twinkling bright eyes.

Sam looked the stranger, whom he guessed to be their same age, up and down, but Val spoke first. “You’re definitely not from here, are you?”

The young man laughed. “No, I’m not from here, I just arrived this morning from Saudi Arabia. I’ve come to America to further my education and learn your customs. But the place I was supposed to stay at was very bad, they rented my room out to another student and they said that they couldn’t give back the money my father sent them in advance, for thirty days. So I have no money, no food and no place to stay.”

Sam moved a falafel to the empty place at the table and pointed to the vacant stool next to him. “Well my little Saudi Arabian friend, you better eat something…”

“Thank you so much, you’ll see, you won’t be sorry.” He extended his hand. “My name is Mohamed.” Continue reading

BETTY BOOZE 3

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. This particular blog let the world know that Downtown Oliver Brown had a sister and David Mamet’s assistant Meaghan had some serious talent–readers loved Betty Booze!

<Click Here: To Buy Books By Stan Lerner> 

Welcome back,

Question: What’s better than wearing a skirt?

Why in his right mind, he would ever say yes, is beyond me…  but I wasn’t about to question it. His ASSistant emailed me the address, and then after a nanny emergency, I was emailed another.

I was supposed to meet him that night on the roof at the Standard in downtown Los Angeles. That is definitely NOT where we met.

 When my friend dropped me off (in a 1990 Eagle mind you) I wasn’t at all surprised by the location, but I was convinced that I would have NO real one on one intimate time with him… which was disappointing. I could have swept him off his feet… (sigh)

 I had to show my I.D. at the door. The large man, accompanied by three other large men, was in plain clothes… which insulted my intelligence when I saw his surveillance ear piece.

He asked me if I had any weapons on me and then, as if he’d known me for years, leaned down and gently said “flask please, ma’am”.  I looked at him in my best “f*ck you, how dare you assume… (I can’t even finish that).

 I handed him the flask in my bag. He smiled, and moved out of the way, letting me inside.

There were kids everywhere! It was like Michael Jackson’s house at midnight. I looked around, my hands were sweating so badly, I could have taken a shot with the water shed. I tried to spot him, but there were just so many little humans running, screaming, crying, laughing, shitting, pissing, farting… you name it they were “ing-ing” it. Continue reading

ROCK ‘N FISH – ROCKS

Torn between readers who want stories about national topics and those who want to know what’s going on in the very happening Downtown LA always presents a conundrum for this writer. Balance being the key to most things in life and the fact that I’ve been desirous of writing about Rock ‘N Fish LA Live for a long time now—this one is for my people in my hometown The City of Angels. And for those readers abroad, you’re going to come to Los Angeles one day, so make a note: eat at Rock ‘N Fish LA live, you’re going to like it.

For the ultra faithful it could tickle your AEG bone that I’m writing about a dining establishment in the heart of LA Live given our stormy relationship, but this place is too good to throw out with the bathwater. And given that I’ve taken to eating at Rock ‘N Fish several days a week I wouldn’t want a Stan sighting to send the observer of such into shock. I should mention here that while most of the restaurants at LA Live are big corporate owned entities, Rock ‘N Fish is one of a chain of two, the original being a beach legend down in the South Bay.

So of all the restaurants in all of the places that I travel…It all started months ago when I ran into Eric / manager of Rock ‘N Fish…I’m leaving out the part about the hot publicist, but the story really begins with me sitting on the very nice patio, one of the best in Downtown, listening to some great rock ‘n roll, thus the name Rock ‘N Fish, and eating almost everything on the menu—not one thing that I wouldn’t order again. But before talking about the food I have to digress for a moment and say that Rock ‘N Fish LA Live is about more than food, Rock ‘N Fish LA Live is about community. All of LA Live combined has not made an effort equal to that of Rock ‘N Fish to be part of what’s going on Downtown and downtownster is all about supporting those that support us.

The food: Rock ‘N Fish much like another favorite restaurant of mine, Continue reading

OLIVER BROWN – HANGING WITH STRETCH

Foreword by Stan Lerner: as mentioned in a previous foreword, I’m working on the motion picture screenplay for our dear Downtown Oliver Brown, so I thought it a bit of fun to repost some of his classic adventures. Enjoy!!!

“Hey Oliver, slow down a second.”

I stopped half a block short of 7th on Flower so my homeless buddy Stretch could put a torch lighter to the pipe in his hand. I call him Stretch because he’s almost seven- feet-tall and looks like he weighs one-sixty or less. “Stretch, you know I don’t approve of you smoking crack.”

 “Oliver, I’m a homeless black man with HIV—give me a break. Smoking crack is the least of my problems.”

 “Well maybe you wouldn’t be homeless if you didn’t spend all the money you panhandle on drugs.”

 Stretch laughed. “Oliver, you spend more money on coffee than I do on crack.”

 “Not anymore, Howard Schultz sent me a Starbucks’ card with a couple of grand on it, for a signed copy of my last book.”

 “Does that mean you’re going to pay me back the money you owe me?” asked Stretch.

It was my turn to laugh. “I knew there was a reason I hadn’t told you about my Starbucks’ card.” I stopped at the corner and stared up at the Wokcano sign.”

Stretch looked at the sign as well, although thinking a completely different thought than my own. “I did some good business here when this was Burger King—it’s all about foot traffic for me,” said Stretch.

 I had a plan. “You really shouldn’t smoke crack on an empty stomach…Wait here I’m going to get you some sushi.” Continue reading

ROAD TO NOWHERE — BEGINNING TO NO END

“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.

“Sure. Let’s grab breakfast in Vegas and see if Andy wants to come with…No his mom is visiting…Let’s grab breakfast in Vegas and stop by to see Andy anyway. Maybe he can meet up with us later… How many miles do you have on this thing?”

“One hundred and eighty-six thousand. Where do you want to eat in Vegas?” asked Mike, seemingly settled into our trip within minutes. Twenty-five years ago a trip in his yellow, convertible corvette took us from coast to coast…

“All these years I’ve been going to Vegas, working in Vegas, living in Vegas, and I’ve never eaten at The Egg and I. Have you?”

He shook his head. “No. Where is it?”

“On Sahara. Let’s go there.”

Forty minutes of good conversation ensued until…  “Hey that’s the 15,” I said pointing at the exit. The Suburban swung across five lanes of traffic as can only be accomplished at such an early hour on the 10 Freeway. We could have wound up in Palm Springs or Arizona for that matter, but that’s the point, it really didn’t matter.

“Hey, let’s pull off in Barstow I like the new Starbucks there—cute girl baristas.”

Mike shrugged. “Okay.”

ROAD TO NOWHERE PART II

The black Suburban rolled down the highway with the mean rumble of a venerated work vehicle. I raised the cappuccino, which I held in my hand, to my lips and took the first soothing sip. Given the distinctly not stylish clothing being warn by Mike and myself and the rugged “Road Warrior” appearance of our vehicle my choice of a cappuccino, as my early morning sustenance seemed a strange juxtaposition—black coffee would have been the appropriate beverage of such a portrait. Continue reading