Face

I don’t understand why I like this picture so much.  Maybe it’s because I took two others within an hour, one in which she looked ten years older, very poised, and another where she appeared ten years younger, child like.  Her life could go in any one of four different directions from this moment, and we could look back and say, yeah, you can see it in her face. Vulnerable, yearning, secretive and self-possessed in different measure.  To be seventeen is to be elastic.

We’d walked through the secret stairs of Whitley Heights, then we went to Birds for a nostalgic and very disappointing meal, and on the way back to the car I told her to stop in this doorway.   She turned around, and for an increment of time wasn’t trying to look pretty.  She was Mona Lisa.    I suppose this means I like it for what she’s hiding from us.

Tidy, No Tipping

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Henceforth, all ranch houses in Los Angeles shall be vertical.  That’s gonna entail a lot more dusting and mopping.  What to do? Who will we find?  Americans are lazy as f**k.

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Look, someone left a card. There’s an App for everything.

Deep. Detailed. Delightful, like a really good massage.  No tipping required. Now we’re talking.

tidy blondes

They’ll even send a pair of blondes who look like yoga instructors.

Okay, maybe they won’t be blonde.  Maybe not fit, either.  But certified. As a bonus willing to labor tip-free, tidying up all the awkward social contract implications.

I wonder where they live, these non-blonde, non-yoga instructing floor scrubbers?  Two to a room in a dingbat apartment in Van Nuys, probably.

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Whatever happened to the old Van Nuys people?  You know, those dingbat apartment dwellers?   Maybe they moved to the Ozarks.  They should have obtained an education if they wanted to stick around.  They shouldn’t have gotten high.  They shouldn’t have gotten old.  How they gonna clean floors now?

Four Days Gone

Memphis come back...

Memphis, come eat…

Vines poke their tendrils through the soffit vents and under the doorways in the Valley.  Spiders and dust slip the gap in the screen. Shade trees drop leaves like drunkards, covering the patio the day after you clean it. Rats chew their way into the walls, bed down in the insulation and gnaw on the ceiling rafters.   Ants march across countertops to find the drop of maple syrup you spilled at breakfast. While you watch Game of Thrones nature is forever reaching into your house, reasserting claims.

You hear cat stories from people, how they disappear for a week and then walk back in the door as though nothing happened.  That’s never happened to us.

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Our deal with Memphis was he was free to wander the neighborhood as long as he reported in by dark.  He rusticated under bushes. He slithered over fences and onto neighbors patios. He lolled in the middle of the street, swishing his tail, waiting for cars to come around the corner. He galumphed up and down the block greeting tradesmen and head-butting teenage slackers.  The normal rules of cat tragedy were forever in abeyance. A hundred and nine lives he enjoyed. On our return from the evening walk we would hear the tinkle of his collar as he fell into step behind us.  Sometimes he took sport in making Mrs. U chase him down, gather him into her arms, and carry him back to the house over her shoulder while he kneaded his claws into her shoulder.

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On the second morning after Memphis didn’t report,  I woke to Trixie pacing the roof.  She stood at parade rest over my bedroom window, alert, staring toward the end of the block, as though sniffing his return.

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It was not to be. The urban forest had extracted its claim on our house.

You, and Your Privilege…

Guess it’s a good thing we don’t live in Highland Park. We may have to take our own lives as penance.

Along our secret stair hike...

Things we saw on our secret stair hike…

The world before the return of white people

…the world before the return of white people

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We wondered if this was the offending act of gentrification. A traditional bodega putting on airs: gourmet coffee, a juice bar, vegan options, a wine list and spot lighting.

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Highland B0wl is pretty rustic on the outside. Unfortunately, the lanes were closed for a private event.  There was a doorman and a velvet rope.  There’s a clue.

With a little sleuthing we found a craft cocktail bar tucked away behind the bowling alley.   Enticingly, it offered a dog-friendly courtyard.

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We ordered something with fernet. It cost $15.  Frigging delicious.  Strike three. It’s official. We is gentrifying!

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I don’t know who this white lady is, but she seemed to be enjoying herself unrepentantly.  Shame!

Friendship, $1 a minute

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This is where we’ve arrived in Los Angeles. Rich people hiring underemployed artists to impersonate friendship, and the artist eager to sell himself in this manner.

are you tired of social media and just want to be social?

do you need a sidekick to help you finish those 10k steps?

some company on the way to your destination? 

an attentive audience?

someone with whom to complain about the general state of things? 

a way to connect with the outdoors?

maybe you want to hear a story on a neighborhood stroll?  

we can talk about whatever you feel like talking about. we can walk however you like to walk.

The paid companion, or lady-in-waiting, has a deep tradition, going back to English court.  It allowed women of a certain class but lacking a dowry proximity to the wealthy and enhanced marriage prospects.  You might meet Maxim de Winter on a cliff in Monte Carlo, and he might make you his nameless second wife.  Then again you might gain the attention of the Earl of Essex and send Queen Elizabeth into such a paroxysm of jealousy she drags you bodily from court by your hair, and has you flogged.

In other words, woman’s work.

But what does woman’s work mean, in an iPhone economy?  Anybody with any sort of personal service to sell can do so formally with the insertion of a Square card reader.  If what you have to sell is empathy, why shouldn’t you?  And if it pays more than your creative endeavor, then you may have little choice.  Man’s work, as it was formerly known, doesn’t pay a dollar minute unless it involves plumbing or electricity or transmission repair.    Therein lies the paradox of higher education.  If there should be a warning label for anyone entering the liberal arts, it would look a whole lot like this flyer, posted by a Yale man.

What Happened?

Clinging to the dream, Mt. Washington

Clinging to the dream, Mt. Washington

The election made Miss Havishams of so many of us.  We keep the sign to stop the clocks in permanent November, so the leaves may never fall.

We rake our stairs in spinster land, eating spider cake.   We curse Vladimir.  He hid the state of Wisconsin inside a maytroshka doll, where she couldn’t find it.  We pre-order her memoir on Amazon.

It may be therapeutic, I’m not sure it is healthy.

I So Red Line Boogie

“Iso” jumped into our train last night at Universal City and told us all he was doing his show.  There was a slightly plaintive quality to the announcement, like he wished to assure he was offering quality and not some subway shakedown.

Then he fired up the boombox and subjected a captive audience to his energetic pastiche of karate moves and pole spinning.

As he was “dancing” I was thinking is it Iso or I So, as I so badass? Or is it “I? So…” Or, “I sow”? Or, “I sew”?  Any one of these might have worked.  If you told me he was going to take the two dollars he was given and run straight to a dealer, I wouldn’t be surprised.  Just as readily if I were to learn two bucks would prize him a pair of sparkly pants for his audition to be one of Rihanna’s back up dancers,  I would believe that as well.

The line between derelict and street performer is a narrow one. The line again between lifelong busker and employed artist is narrower still.

To this end, Jack Dishel, a Venice musician, hit upon the very inspired idea of a YouTube channel called :DRYVRS, wherein he has encounters with oddball rideshare drivers, played by celebrities. Ostensibly a comic short,  each episode serves as a stealth vehicle for promoting his music.

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Episode 1, starring Macaulay Culkin in a reprise of his Home Alone character went viral:  25,000,000 views.

Episode 2, starring Rosanna Arquette: 113,000 views.

Jack Dishel playing music on his channel, after being seen with Macauley Culkin : 4,000 views.  That would be a retention rate of .00016.  Or one out of every 6,250 viewers.

The series lasted two episodes.

“Iso” jumped off the train at Hollywood and Highland like he robbed a convenience store and disappeared into the crowd with his two dollars and his boombox.

At the Hollywood Bowl, Brian Setzer kicked off the show by telling us only 30 people came the first time the Orchestra played Sunset Boulevard, 25 years ago.

Since then he’s been perpetually touring, grinding it out with little variation to the set list, a hostage to his own success, dozens of families, musicians and crew, depending on the forever tour to pay the mortgage, the tuition, the grocery bill.

We were in the cheapest seats, by the upper terrace, and we swing danced as the music was meant for.  Our footwork was …let’s just say we were in no danger of anyone tipping us for our performance. In the shadows of the pepper trees, we almost looked like we knew what we were doing. Which is to say we had fun, fun being the operative verb of indestructible music, cheap wine and moonlight.

Dancing is exhausting. I so left the Bowl with a little more respect for…Iso.