segunda-feira, 23 de setembro de 2013

Late Night Surprise

Last Saturday night I went to a party in Santa Monica, Liami Lawrence's 50th birthday. I didn't know anyone in the room, I just went to be nice and give Liami a hug. At one point I decided to go for a quick walk around the neighborhood. I found this beautiful music shop still open at 11 pm. It's called Mccabe's (very interesting punt on the Jewish rebel army of the second century BCE). It's amazing! It has instruments of all shapes and forms and 2 thousand dollar classical guitars and sitars on the walls.
A few minutes after I got in I realized why this vintage jewel was open till so late. There was a concert going on in the back room and the music the electrifying music they had playing in the shop was from that concert. I still caught the end of the concert. Apparently they organize concerts with guitars every weekend.  The funny thing about LA, in this case Santa Monica is that wherever you are you are always next door to something amazing.

Beautiful classical guitars.

A sitar and a Chinese ehru to show a certain eclecticism.

The crowd after the concert in the back.

Beautiful but expensive. 2000 bucks a piece.
They even had washboards. A typical jazz instrument that is very hard to come by in Europe.

quarta-feira, 18 de setembro de 2013

Anatomy of the Wet Burrito

I met my friend Benjamin Weiss at his Glassel Park maison and we went out with the loose plan of drinking a beer, grabbing dinner and catching the latest Wong Kar Wai movie at the local theater. We started with the York Bar on York Street.
Benjamin was telling me how he is growing a bit tired of America and the Americans and he gave the bar around us as the example of the "same old". I understood his point but I thought how we always speak with a "full belly" about these things. York bar is just like any other bar in LA but bars in LA are great, service is fast, variety is great and decoration and environment are top. I was last year in Europe and to get into a bar like that I would need to pay 12  euros (14 bucks) for a crappy beer I could get anywhere else. When you spend a lot of time in LA you start to take these things for granted.
Then we went to this really small Mexican restaurant still in Glassell Park that had both hipsters and Mexican families for clients. "Always eat where the locals eat" goes the saying and this restaurant was great in that sense. It was small, not fancy and service was not the best, but it was cheap and the food was great. Me and Ben got the burrito mojado, literally the "wet burrito" and we asked for both salsas (sauces). The burrito is the Mexican answer to the hot dog, easy to prepare and with the typical ingredients of Spanish America and Brazil - beans and rice. The wet burrito works on top of this tradition, it is a Mexican francezinha of sorts. The salsas have two colors red and green which I took as an homage to the Portuguese flag.  The burrito itself is rich and spicy.  I drank water to take the hotness away but Benjamin drank this great lime and cucumber juice.
 In the end we were so satisfied we couldn't get to the theater for the Wong Kar Wai movie so we dragged our overfed butts back to Benji's where we watched the horrible World War Z. Goes to show you can't have everything.
Benjamin is living in Carmel till January so I won't be seeing him any time soon. Safe trips my friend!   
York bar at Glassell Park

Small but cozy Mexican restaurant at Glassell Park

Sorry for the bad quality of the pic but here is the big star "burrito mojado"

segunda-feira, 2 de setembro de 2013

Transvesty, transsexual, transylvanian night!

Yesterday I participated in a genuinely unique American tradition.  In this country there are multiple ways to watch a movie, and unlike Europe, being passive is not the only one. There are the sing along viewings in which you sing along the movie's soundtrack - I went to a sing along of Glee in a multiplex, two years ago, that was really funny. Then there are the act along in which the audience acts the film out.
The Nuart movie theater in Santa Monica boulevard organizes every Saturday night an act along of the 1976 release The Horror Picture Show. I had never seen The Horror Picture Show and I had never been to a sing along, but it was great. It makes the European cinematheque experience as exciting as watching paint dry.
The environment in the room is crazy, the film starts at midnight and the audience comes dressed like the characters of the film (lots of girls with nothing but their underwear on) and props are sold to the audience so that they can act out the film (in this case a rubber glove, a balloon, a newspaper, some playing cards and some toilette paper all wrapped up in paper bag). A troupe of actors warms you up, there is an oath of allegiance and if it's your first night and you are a virgin you are called up on stage to be symbolically fucked (and I was!).
Then the movie starts. The Horror Picture Show is a insane musical that only makes sense when you act it out with a hundred people next to you.  It was one of Susan Sarandon's first movies (where she was already showing off her boobs!) and a tour de force by Tim Curry, an actor I gave nothing for since he played Richelieu in the Disney debacle The Three Musketeers, but that shows up here as a magnificent "transvesty, transsexual, transylvanian from another planet". The film is a gay extravaganza that makes any Broadway show look macho.  The story is insane but in the context of  an act along it couldn't have been better. 
I know, there is in the American culture of the last 10 years a certain tendency to glorify mediocrity, picking up crap art from the 70's and 80's and say it's great because it's bad, and I admit there is a bit of that going on in this "sing along, act along culture" but one thing's for sure you have a great time when you are there! I advise it!

There is dancing on stage before the film begins.

A host warms you up, you swear the oath of allegiance, you get "fucked", a stripper does her stick and the cabaret begins!