Monday, September 25, 2006

Friday Night on the Boulevard

In an act of almost unconscionable workplace indolence, two of my co-workers and I left the office early on Friday to catch an opening night screening of "Jackass 2" at Mann's Chinese theater. Fridays do tend to be a little more chill around the office, as that same night half the crew spent a couple of hours in the bar across the street and the other half went home early. Besides, when I went to pick up my paycheck Friday I found that none had been issued to me, so I said fuck it, let's go out into the big bad world of Hollywood Boulevard on a Friday night.

And it is quite a world. Hollywood Boulevard has undergone a renovation a la Times Square in New York, and it is no longer the strip that Jackson Browne once sang of with its prostitutes and pimps and drug addicts. Now you have to go down two blocks to Sunset to find that. Hollywood Blvd. between Vine and La Brea is a sort of Vegas-like strip, with lots of neon,
advertisting, and all kinds of tourist-trapping enterprises: Hooters, the Guiness Book of World Records Musuem, The Egyptian theater, El Capitan, Hamburger Hamlet, the Virgin Mega Store, and scads of crap shops with 3 t-shirts for $10 and Your Picture with Brad Pitt. There's a heavy Scientology presence on Hollywood Blvd., and it is a rare night when I walk down the street and am not offered a "FREE STRESS TEST!" by some new Hubbardian convert. "No thank you," I usually say. "I know I'm stressed." But last Friday the vibe seemed even crazier than normal. The second we stepped onto the street a cop car zoomed by us, flashers on, and screeched to a halt at the light, whereupon a Fast and Furious Honda pulled a quick rubber-burning 180 and beat ass in the opposite direction. The cop, being blocked in, did not manage a pursuit. But the police are present not just in their cars. At the corner of Hollywood and Highland a big new shopping/entertainment complex has risen from the ashes of the old Hollywood Blvd. (the same complex that houses the Kodak Theater, home of the Academy Awards) and as we walked by we passed ten uniformed, heavily armed cops. I asked my friend Ian, "Is that supposed to make me feel safe or paranoid?" Girls were screaming out of their cars; "Yo, those the new Jordan seven series?" and a man in a rabbit suit was offering photos for a modest donation. Quite a gauntlet (look it up, Peter) we had to run but run it we did, finally arriving at Mann's Chinese for the 12:30 a.m. screening. It was my first film at Mann's, so after stopping to check out Kevin Costner's freshly molder shoes and hands (he has small both) we ventured inside. Mann's Chinese is the definition of a Movie Palace, and the interior is plush, decadent, vaguely Eastern, and huge. There's a balcony, a chandelier, and a proscenium arch in gold leaf that borders the screen. As we sat down to watch, I tought that Jackass was actually the perfect movie to be seeing in such an environment, as these guys represent what Hollywood is all about now: young, good-looking (for the most part), and celebrities of the 15-minute order, the kind of fame that snowballs until you eventually forget why these people became famous and just accept them as celebrities. The movie is horrifying and absolutely engaging in its face-piercing, horse cum-drinking, scatalogical way. The crowd was very vocal, especially during the trailers. After a ridiculously bombastic and THX-pounding trailer for "Transformers" someone yelled "It's gonna suck!" and everyone in the audience applauded. After the film we emerged in front of the theater and there was some dude laying on the concrete, out cold, a cop straddling him, a river of blood running from his head down into Hedey Lamar's shoes. Apparently the guy started a fight and then got jumped in front of Mann's. A dark way to end the evening, but completely in keeping with the vibe of the night.

Friday, September 15, 2006

R.I.P. Scarlet, 1990-2006

Well it's been a bad year for cats in the O'Dair family. In the last calendar year, we've lost three. Last week we lost sweet little Scarlet. I never said this while Bucky and Zed were around, but Scarlet was my favorite. Not that I didn't love Bucky and Zed, but Scarlet was just special. She was sweet, would let you hold her upside down, and no matter what she just wanted to sit on your lap. Also very fast. Quickest reflexes of any cat I've seen. While Scarlet was a very small cat, she never perceived herself as anything but a completely dominant Alpha cat. Small but fierce, was the way I always described her. True, she terrorized Bucky quite a bit and could be quite a bitch, but I loved her ceaselessly and so did Bucky.

I should also mention that my dear friend Peter also recently lost his dear little Liebnitz under much more tragic circumstances. Feline leukemia, which as we speak is ravaging the feral cat colony Peter has been caretaker of since they moved to Wilson Ave. Liebnitz did not make any pretensions to being the sharpest claw on the paw, but dammit was she cute and she could chase the laser pointer like a fiend. Too bad we never got Bucky and Liebnitz together when they both had their sexy lion cuts.

Tomorrow is the last day of my mindnight-9 a.m. shift, and I'm looking forward to returning to my "normal" schedule of 6 p.m.-3 a.m. No matter how you slice it, working at night sucks. Lisa is performing next week with a former French rock and roll star, and I won't be able to see the show. Billy Goldberg asked me to go to the tennis matches at UCLA, and I wasn't able to go. Skylar and the boys have signed up for a rec league basketball team that I'm supposed to play on but the games are at night, so I won't be able to go. Tim wants to stop off on his way back from Hawaii, but I have to work so what's the point? And that doesn't include random movies, shows, concerts, drinks with people, basically the stuff that makes living in a city worth it. So I ask you, why am I working at night? For the love of reality TV, I guess.

So weekends are the only time I get to socialize in any form. Saturday I got off work at 8 a.m. and went and sat on the beach for an hour, then went straight to a bar in Santa Monica to watch the Buckeye game at a place called The Shack. I found the Shack on the OSU Alumni web site, as it was listed as a place to watch the game in LA. To my surprise, the place was packed with scarlet and grey wearing fans who were very enthusiastic about the Bucks. It was a little surreal seeing all these OSU people in LA, as I thought I was the only one. I met a bunch of cool people and plan on going back for each game, if my schedule permits it. Saturday night I hung out over at Lisa and Milo's playing guitar and listening to poetry and drinking wine, which is always a good time. Sunday afternoon I played hoops with the hoops crowd, and Sunday night I went to a stand-up comedy open mic at the Improv. It was brutal and extrememly non-funny. There was one good joke all night: "I was really into Goth when I was a teenager. You know, I had the black hair, the makeup, the flying buttresses." That cracked me up but the rest of the group were really bad. Made it seem easy to get up there and be not the worst person on stage. Next week we're going to try a different open mic and see if the talent pool is any different.

Will Dan keep his night job? Will his growing dissatisfaction get him fired? Will his boss read his last post and fire him? Will he lose his mind and go postal on the reality TV world? Tune in next time on California Screamin'.