sexta-feira, 26 de julho de 2013

No Age, No Concert, Great Evening!

Los Angeles is a conurbation, meaning a region comprising a number of cities, large towns, and other urban areas that, through population growth and physical expansion, have merged to form one continuous urban and industrially developed area.
Santa Monica is part of this conurbation. Of the old Spanish mission and fishing pueblo nothing remains. Santa Monica is only a rich suburb of LA built in the 20's by rich white people who saw in the Pacific beaches one of the the last frontiers of the ever-expanding America. Like in the rest of LA there are no squares or monuments to speak of in Santa Monica except some names in a plaque and a canon remembering the times when the white people thought emperor Hirohito would drop some souvenirs in their seaside paradise.
KCRW is my favorite radio station. A once government subsidized station,  KCRW broadcasts great talk radio and music and they are now organizing some summer concerts in the Santa Monica pier. 
Yesterday we went to a KCRW concert at the pier but first we grabbed some sandwiches at Bay Cities - a great Italian deli, and one of the few places in LA where you can get cheap good Portuguese wine (Grao Vasco bottle for 8 bucks!)- and then we picnicked in the beach and listened to the bands playing.
The opening act was called Tijuana Panthers and they were pretty decent. They are one of those hipster Hives wanna-be bands with base, guitar and drums. They aren't doing anything new or exciting but you can still listen and shake your butt to their music. But then came the main act, these two guys who call themselves "No Age" but in truth have really "No Music". I know I am beginning to sound like by grandmother when she said all young people hear is noise, and god knows I've always admired the balls of John Cage (since I couldn't admire his music) but these two sounded like they were playing at the bottom of an empty bottle. They produced the sound a garage band produces in their first demos, those demos who usually come with the note "it's like this but with bass."
I was in such great company, the sunset in Santa Monica was so beautiful I really didn't give a shit about the noise pollution "No Age" were trying to spread. It was a really great evening in Santa Monica, and showed that all you need to have fun is someone great by your side.
My beautiful finger and our picnic - Trader Joe's pie, Bay Cities sub and a gorgeous psychedelic blanket.

terça-feira, 23 de julho de 2013

Back to Basics

My friend Tomas Szelazek invited me to go play football (soccer for suckers) at the USC campus track. I hadn't done that in years. Last time it happened I was still living with Tomas, Tim and Jon in the same house. Now we all moved away,, they are all married and I decided to return to the USC campus and meet Tomas for the first time in years.
The campus has changed a lot, the film school I went to does not stop growing, our old pitch is now a building for the football team (the American one) and the previous food court is a parking lot. More than a University, USC is a real estate venture where buildings change as fast as the students, and where both are just numbers.
 One thing I didn't feel was nostalgia. So much water has passed under the bridge since I left that place yet the absence of real weather seasons in LA makes everything seem like it was literally yesterday.
As football is concerned it was as if I never left, the Mexican guys still don't pass the ball, the euro trash like me and Tomas still play D. I'm out of shape but not as much as I thought.
 It was good to see Tomas again. For a moment I thought I would never see him or the USC campus and it's eternal spring ever again.
Tomas showing his best side on the track.

sábado, 20 de julho de 2013

Doctor Love, the Shepherdess and the Little Bundle

When I was in Petra a young Bedouin approached a taxi I was catching with some friends and asked from high on his donkey "What's your name?" The female in our group said her name and my friend Ethan Kuniyoshi asked back to the Bedouin with his American swagger "What's your name?" The young Bedouin answered immediately looking at the girl in our group "I'm Doctor Love..."
Ethan and I came back to Jerusalem answering every question with "I'm Doctor Love." My screen name on Facebook (AIM)- I had just joined- was, and still is, doctorlove. But Ethan was already under the spell of the good doctor because he had met a girl earlier on his trip when he arrived in Israel. Her name was Monica, she was from New York, but he referred to her simply has the Shepherdess. I guess, just like me, Ethan was looking for someone to guide his flock. They would spend hours on skype because she had come back to the States. She traveled later that summer to meet him in London, and two years ago I held the chupah at their wedding.
Last year Monica gave birth to their first daughter Avivah, the cutest baby in five States (reminded me of little Matilde). 
The three of them came down to LA this weekend to visit Ethan's father and stopped by to say hi to yours truly and we went out for coffee. Ethan preferred the Grove over Canter's to show the later to Monica - so West Coast to think you can impress a New Yorker with a mall. 
The Farmer's Market was empty and sort of depressing. There should be more night animation around that part of town. I still find Farmer's Market overrated, but we eventually sat down around that place and talked for a while. When they brought me back home I noticed a lot of animation around my area... I guess they heard "Doctor Love" is in town. 

quarta-feira, 17 de julho de 2013

LA Story

Once I went to a Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces party here in LA with my friend Doron Bergman, himself an ex-member of the Israeli army - tzahal. The party wasn't anything special and they gave me a t-shirt with the picture of a serpent with wings, the standard of Hativat HaTzanhanim the paratrooper brigade.
The t-shirt was visually interesting and I kept it. While in the States I never thought much of the meaning of the t-shirt but when I was in Portugal last year I thought someone could recognize it and get me in trouble for what could be perceived as a very "reactionary", "zionist" t-shirt. But no one recognized it.
Today I took it to work because it's been really hot in LA. When I was coming back from work walking down La Brea a bicycler coming in the opposite direction pointed at my t-shirt and I thought "Shit, I was found!" but he said with a thick Israeli accent "That's my brigade! That's my brigade!" Then he started speaking Hebrew, I said "Yes, yes paratroopers!" He was really excited, I shook his hand and because I had nothing else to say I just said "Baruch haba!" (welcome), imagine me a foreigner welcoming him to a country that's not mine! Only in LA!
I got home and saw two episodes of Prisoners of War on Hulu... I'm under the sign of Israel today.   

Euro Luau for Carmen

Yesterday my friend Benjamin organized a small concert, a euro Luau with performances by  Jont Troubador and Sam Babayan.
Ben's point was to introduce his better half, Carmen, who just arrived from Zurich with a magical green card,  to the LA scene and he succeeded. The word love was thrown around a lot, as it's normal in these circumstances, but it was true , the view was breathtaking, the company was great, the food was exquisite and if that doesn't make the love flow I don't know what will. There were stars in the sky and the music was poetic, it was a bit of the 60's in Glassel Park.
Jont Troubador the heart-breaker making his magic
Jont trying to sound louder than the neighbors

Benji and Sam Babayan schmoozing

domingo, 14 de julho de 2013

Proper Hispster Haircut

Today I went for a hair cut with my friend Alex Moglan. I usually go to the Imperial Barber Shop in down town's Little Tokyo, but the owner/hairdresser is recovering from surgery to her forearm so this time I decided to follow Alex's advice.
Alex is an actor and a good looking mother fucker so I knew this had to be good. We went to the Proper Barber Shop on Fairfax and 3rd.
The place has a very interesting vibe. It's like you are in a tattoo parlor – the guys who cut hair there have more tattoos than many proud sailors – the decoration is barroc kitch and there's even a bust of Ron Jeremy on the wall next to skate boards, posters and paraphernalia from the iPhone generation.
During the haircut the hairdressers talk to each other about musical tastes, which I thought is an upgrade from the football (yes, yes I don't say soccer) comments from the barber shop I used to go to when I was a kid with my dad. Your chair spins as they cut your hair and the music is mainly heavy metal, but the good stuff like Pantera and Metallica, no Nickelback shit. As far as haircuts go, they follow the Cristiano Ronaldo school of shaved on the sides with a sort of pompadour on top, a crew cut for the mentally sane that goes by hipster fashion these days. All the guys cutting hair there had that cut and all the customers, including my boy Alex asked for the same. Yes, originality only goes so far, but not for me, I had to be different, and I was.
My haircut, after a lot of chair spinning, was not as good as I wanted it. I like my hair, really, really short and really, really messy, but by the third time I asked the guy to cut it a bit shorter I gave up. It was 20 bucks and I gave a 4 dollar tip (got carried away). I didn't get what I wanted but I loved the vibe of the place, and if the Imperial hairdresser doesn't recover soon I may comeback to Proper for a hair cut and some more hipster moments.
After  the haircut, chicken wings and beer with my boy Alex at the Hudson. It's good to spent time with friends.
Proper Barber Shop in LA (Ron Jeremy bust on top of cashier)

Hipster client waiting for shaved on the sides Hipster North Korean hair cut.

My boy Alex waiting for me by the window, that guy would look good even with a Mop-Top

quinta-feira, 11 de julho de 2013

Nights In White Satin

Today something extraordinarily rare happened. It rained in Los Angeles.

On the way back  home, walking (because I always walk home from work) I took Sunset Boulevard on La Brea and walked all the way to Cherokee, on top of the Cherokee's Seven Eleven I saw a beautiful rainbow, my first here in LA.

My nights in my new place are strange. Time Warner has installed internet so I have email but I still don't have gas to cook, and I don't know what to do with the still couchless living room. I miss having people around I guess, I can't really focus in either my writing or my reading. I need activity around me, quiet, organized chaos. Me by myself I just turn inward to my thoughts and dumb youtube cooking videos. I think I've seen the francesinha recepy some 300 times and today I was watching the Bolhao Pato clams recipe. I need gas in my kitchen so I can make my own damage...

I need to find an attack plan for the evenings, install gas, put the curtains on my bathroom tub and get a couch... so much to do, so little time.    
Rainbow over Sunset Boulevard

segunda-feira, 1 de julho de 2013


This weekend I had my first guest, my friend Benji Weiss. After dinner we had some beers on my apartment's floor. I still don't have the power in my apartment in my name because they can't find my social security number but I had, at least, light for a guest.
Saturday I went to the 101 coffee shop for a tete-a-tete with David Gittins and Antoinette O'Grady. Because we discussed Facebook and privacy they shall not have a portrait here. Before I left I had a 1 hour conversation with Time Warner so they could explain to me how to install Internet, since I picked up a modem from their shop. No one from their technical support line could help and they all hanged up the phone in my face. I spoke to a salesman and he told me that Tuesday the latest they would turn on the Internet  in my apartment. That's when I fond out that the Internet hadn't been turned on yet and I didn't need the modem till then so "thank you Time Warner."
 I left home and I went to the 101 coffee shop to meet David and Antoinette. The place is a dinner and celebrity hot spot in Hollywood. It's in a hotel and it has, to its credit, a lot of charm. I had a smoked salmon mash that I can put up there in my top 10 smoked salmon dishes. The vibe of the place was really comfortable and friendly. It was good to have an intelligent conversation with grown ups again. I feel there is a thin cultural layer that separates me from angelinos- not Americans in general- but just people from around LA. Europeans are way more mature in general though considerably more gloomy. I hope I am not becoming arrogant in my assumptions about angelinos, since I am the one who needs to adapt to the locals and not the other way around.
Sunday I had a very nice incursion into the Ikea world with Danielle Reder who gave me a ride there (thank you mademoiselle). We had In and Out before we got to the Swedish giant store.  Ikea beats Macdonald's in patronization, all Ikea stores look the same EVERYWHERE around the globe. They don't even bother to adapt. I bought some dishes, a curtain for the shower and some glasses, but forgot the cutlery and the hooks to hang the curtain on the shower pole. I will get those when I get cable.
Now I need to get power in my name (I hope I still have power today)... do not miss the next episode...  drop me a line if you had similar experiences with Time Warner.
Benji on the floor

Benji with Doron's back light