Sunday, November 08, 2009

 

Los Angeles

And so it was that we went from this . . .



. . . to this.



Even though I grew up in California, I haven't actually spent much time in LA. I don't really know that much about it. Of course, there were the obligatory trips to Disneyland and Sea World, etc. And my parents used to drive down for special exhibits, or art related performances that were not going to take place in San Francisco. I played in the All State Orchestra once at the LAX Hilton. But I don't know much about LA.

We arrived on a Saturday evening, and drove to a hotel in China Town, where my reading would take place the following evening. In the morning, I decided to visit the big independent bookstores: Book Soup, and Skylight Books. And then, because there was extra time, we went to the Barnes and Noble in The Grove.



First up, Skylight Books, located in West Hollywood, a neighborhood so casual yet funky that I immediately wished we had skipped the hotel provided breakfast to eat brunch here.



There was a cat in the bookstore--a kitten named Franny--who became good friends with my mother.



And then it was over to Sunset Boulevard, to go to Book Soup. Along the way, we passed some impossibly glamorous stores--glamorous even by New York standards. I fell in love with this Badgley Mischka dress made of feathers.



And I fully expect to see some producer's child decked out in this overly precious dress. I mean, there are some nice children's clothing stores in New York. But all this felt even more whimsical to me--I hadn't expected such whimsy in LA. I liked it.



Again--here's an example of what I mean. Of course there are fur coats for sale in New York, but they are serious coats for serious people. This thing is . . . pink. And completely impractical. And from what I could tell . . . not even real fur at all!!!

At Book Soup, I learned that the guy in charge of displays, Joseph Mattson, was going to be reading with me that evening. In fact, everywhere I went, people had heard of the Vermin on the Mount reading series, which made me happy. And I have to say, on the whole I found the LA literary scene to be very supportive and gentle--not nearly as cut throat as New York. I do think there are advantages to living outside of the THE big city.



Like I said--I don't really know LA. My mother told me that my father had always promised to do touristy things with her, like take her to Mann's Chinese theater (which I guess has a new name) to look at the celebrity handprints. And, well, we decided to go. It was a madhouse. It was also quite tacky. There were several Michael Jacksons.



This one, apparently from MJ's Thriller phase, had dark makeup on his hand (I looked). There was another MJ who was much lighter. We saw superheroes all over the place. When I saw Batman later, around the corner, eating a meal, I tried to take a picture, but he put his hand over his face. He looked horribly sad. And then all those cliches about aspiration and broken dreams started going through my mind . . .



But, really, when the food is so good everywhere and the weather wonderful and everyone happy and out and about, I do begin to wonder if there aren't other places in the world to live . . .


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