Wednesday, October 22, 2014

LA and The World in a Stew Over Renee Zellwegger

People are freaking out EVERYWHERE that Renee Zellweger "doesn't look like herself." Everyone from plumbers to producers are sharing an outcry but the thing is, try watching a movie where a woman over the age of thirty-five-something is hired (that's the first miraculous thing) and doesn't look perfect (miraculous thing #2). Is she the lead? Huh. Wow. The Trifecta.

Then examine the cast of that movie. What do the men look like? Do they have "sexy" crow's feet? A big fat belly? How old are they? Is there an older man sleeping with a younger woman? There is? I'm so shocked.

I'm traveling and just watched "Chef" on the plane. I really like this movie. It has heart and soul. The portrayal of the young boy and the difficulty of dealing with his dad who's divorced from his mom was basically realistic. Basically. But I digress. Jon Favreau was very charming. Funny, smart, imperfect in some of his decisions. Oh, and one more thing: Jon Favreau was maybe 50-60 pounds overweight, was having sex with Scarlett Johannson, and then (*spoiler alert*) gets back together with his ex-wife, played by Sofia Vegara. Now I'm totally fine with it. No problem by me. Write the movie you want to write, cast it as you want to cast it. Entertaining. Really. I like those ladies. Everyone was good in the film. I'm happy as a clam.
John Favreau
Now...what if we reverse these roles, just as an experiment. The lead in a funny, well-done script, well-cast film, is an overweight woman? Not under 40. She's sleeping with Channing Tatum. Oh, and she's going to (*spoiler alert*) get back together with her ex, played by Adam Driver? Or okay, maybe he's slightly too young. We'll cast Ashton Kutcher. How about that movie? Oh, right. It doesn't really exist does it?


I guess I just needed to stick up for Renee. I don't know this woman. I can't say she wasn't beat out for a bunch of roles the past several years based on more than her looks. I know nothing about her career, really. What I do know is very few of us personally know the truth either. Nor do any one of us know what she's been through and reacted to or dealt with leading her to make the choices she's made. To not give her a fair shake, man, just seems cold and mean. Really cold and mean.

Off the top of my head, some actresses 45 and over working are: Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange, Annette Bening, Angelica Huston, Helen Mirren, Susan Sarandon and Frances McDormand.

Most of these women were particularly beautiful as younger women. I mean drop-dead, other-worldly hot. Think about Meryl Streep in Kramer vs. Kramer, Jessica Lange in Frances, Annette Bening in Bugsy, Helen Mirren in anything, Susan Sarandon in Bull Durham.
Meryl Street
And they had it all in terms of being uber talented, stunningly beautiful, sexy as all get out, and a few even could age without a bunch of breast-ups and needles to the face and veins.

I am not sure, no I'm pretty sure we just can't, we DON'T look at the men the same way.

So you know, if you have better things to do then put down Renee Zellweger, God bless you. If not, and you're on the bandwagon with those putting down Renee Zellweger or dressing it up as feeling sorry for her, then think about the decisions made in not just Hollywood but in society. Think about the pressures on women regarding ageism, the demand women be flawless in beauty, and the insistence they make little to no mistakes with their career. If you're willing to apply these same rules to men, that would be one thing. If not, then maybe, and I say it with love, shut the fuck up.

p.s. I'll get back to writing about cool LA things but I had my panties in a bunch so you know, there you go.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Self-Care in The City of Angels

The other day I had a bit of a blow up, meltdown, implosion. It sucked. Lying in bed crying is a great thing to do when you're miserable... FOR A LITTLE WHILE... but it's nothing to make a habit of, especially when you live in one of the best cities in the world for those in need to recover from feeling rejected.
Pet Entwhistle
Peg Entwhistle
Unless I'm wrong, poor Peg Entwhistle was the first actress to take a leap off The Hollywood Sign. I'm not going to say if she went to Whole Foods, meditated at The Vedanta Temple and got a massage from Nikom at The Raven things would have been different...

But really, a little self-care goes a long way in a city that thrives on chewing you up and spitting you out.
Capital Records Building
Sometimes Hollywood feels downright depressing
Because as a writer, actress, director, musician -- you have to know rejection is a part of it. And you do develop a thick skin but that skin has to be immersed and infused with oils, scrubbed down with salts, moisturized with Nightingale poop, plumped up with fillers and kissed all over by the force of the universe to be fully appreciated no matter what, in order to deal with all that is putting its grubby little hands over it.

Yep, sounds like someone had a bad day. So my first stop in trying to feel better -- oh wait, my first stop was a cheeseburger at The Oaks Gourmet in Hollywood.

My little friend, Nancy, met me there. I didn't take any pictures. You wouldn't want to see what I did to this burger or what I looked like in this moment in time. Oh, the best is I say to the incredibly handsome guy at the checkout register (everyone there is incredibly handsome or super-chick-hot -- I kind of think it's a pre-req to getting a gig there) that I'd like a burger, medium rare, no this or that, etc. etc. And then I go, "You know what? I'm emotionally eating. Can I have the Greek Salad as well?" Their Greek Salad is SO good. It has mint and is light and not too onion-y and tastes fresh - really fresh. Like the tomatoes are tomatoes I'd choose. Anyway, he goes, "So, not the burger, just the salad?" And I go "No, I said, I'm emotionally eating. So both. Thank you!" He was too hot and skinny to have any idea what I meant but smiled like the good young optimistic sport he was.
Kristen Dunst
Kirsten Dunst at The Oaks Gourmet (kind of like me & Nancy)
Nancy's like my trudging bud. She knows my pain. She ALWAYS makes me laugh. And if every day I could meet her at The Oaks and eat a burger, one of the best in Hollywood, that would be heaven. No, come on. That would be disgusting. I'd have a major cholesterol problem. Okay. Moving on.

I went home, cried and lied around and listened to my meditation mp3. It's this woman, Micaela Boehm from Vienna (I decided that. I don't actually know where she's from). She's a hypnotist I saw years ago and I still listen to the recording she made for me.  I put on my eye mask, lie down, and press play. She goes So now to begin with I want you to make yourself very comfortable. And just allow your body to sink down, into the soft service, adjusting your body so that you can rest for a few moments, allowing your body to... rest... your mind to drift aimlessly... effortlessly... drifting from thought to thought... while your body begins to sink down... feeling all the stress and tension of your day... and letting yourself sink down... unwind...slow you... drift...float...flow... I don't know what else she says because I immediately fall asleep every time.

Then two of my closest friends checked in. I was "called to action" and met up with Else & Stephanie who let me cry like a colicky baby and got me to laugh at myself.
The Real Housewife
My Real Housewives Companions, Else & Stephanie
These are the guys I can say the straight dope to and they're kind enough to remind me I'm not always such a downer. They're pretty awesome and I started to feel like people did like me and my Stuart Smalley self was gonna be okay.
Stewart Smalley
Doggone it, people like me!
But the next morning when I woke up, with swollen eyelids, I was kind of like, Wow, people don't like me.

I knew I could just feel sorry for myself for endless pointless hours or I could get into action. Trust me, feeling sorry for myself can be like a super ugly default and a job unto itself. But I chose to do otherwise. First stop?

Meditation at the Vedanta Temple in The Hollywood Hills.
The Vedanta Society of Southern California
This is SUCH an unassuming place. It's tucked away on this teensy street right above Hollywood, off of Vine. It's located in one of the oldest, smallest, and most charming enclaves of LA, The Hollywood Dell, where all the houses look like craftsman cabins where magical elves live.
The Hollywoo Dell
I forgot to get good pictures of this area so here's someone's garage across from The Temple
So peaceful, unpopulated, beautiful, mellow. I went into the temple, pulled up a cushion, and started to meditate. It felt good. I was at ease. I felt so peaceful and quiet.

And then this lady walked in. 
Wasn't sure if it would be frowned upon to take pictures but sometimes being subversive makes me feel better.
She kept moving around. I don't know why. I was trying to think of nothing but sometimes would slightly open my left eyelid to peek over and make sure she wasn't doing something weird. She wasn't. She was just fidgety. I was like that on a plane once to Barcelona. I was sharing a bunch of seats with some woman and I couldn't get comfortable and I kept moving around and she goes, Settle down! and I was like paralyzed for the rest of the flight and didn't sleep one wink. I didn't say sharply Settle down! to this fidgety lady in the temple. I like to think of myself as evolved and she left before my meditation time was up. Oh, that was the other thing. I set my timer on my phone to meditate. Then when she came in, I felt completely like I should turn it off and couldn't stop obsessing over that. I was so relieved when she left. If that lady is reading this, Thank you, Lady!
Hug a tree at The Vedanta Center in Hollywood
Afterwards, I had to go to the dentist. Let's not get into that shit, although I will say, I have the best dentist EVER and he's super nice and travels all over the world and takes incredible pictures. If you need a dentist, look up Dr. Kurtz in Glendale. He rocks (and he likes rocks).

Then off to Whole Foods. My friend, Dina, who is an integrative nutritionist and has a company called Well Is Good reminded me that good food makes me feel better. She's ALWAYS right and besides, I wanted to spend money but spend it productively in a safe atmosphere. So I went to adult Disneyland, otherwise known as Whole Foods, The Happiest Place on Earth (including Bed, Bath & Beyond).
Wole Foods
Whole Foods on Arroyo Parkway
Either you hate or love Whole Foods. I get it. I've been there. But right now, I wish I lived in this place. And the one on Arroyo Parkway, which is like award winning and everyone knows it's super nice, is filled with magic beans and good vibes. I mean look at this guy...
Best Sandwhiches LA
Pat, The Sandwich King
I am not kidding. This kid is like a freakin genius. He knows sandwiches and I'm a sandwich maven/snob. If you're at Whole Foods and need a sammy, I pray for you that Pat's working. That's all I can say.

And this lady? I live for this lady. She is SO nice to me. Every time. I will wait in line so I can see her. She always has a nice thing to say and anyway, she's like one of those people that reminds me people are good and nice and nothing really matters. And she always has a nice extra touch, like super fantastic earrings. She's like Flor at Von's in Eagle Rock who usually has a flower in her hair and Dorothy at Gelson's in Hollywood who ALWAYS remembers you.
Add caption

But Whole Foods, there's just something special about really good food.
Just found out the Salmon is on sale this Friday for $8.99 per lb.
I don't drink and I don't smoke.
foot bar

Food is what I got. So trust me, I am going to make the most of it.
Save a cow, eat a pumpkin!
And as good as all that was, no journey towards feeling better about yourself is complete, in my humble opinion, without a massage. LA has a billion choices from excellent super cheap (like Pho Siam on the edge of downtown) to uber dripping in indulgence shmance (like The Spa in Beverly Hills at The Four Seasons). For me though, when I'm really in need, when I don't want to compromise, but I can't justify spending a car payment (or worse) on a massage, I go visit Nikom at The Raven in Silverlake: My all-time favorite massage maybe on the planet.
This guy is a master.  A true master. The guy who owns the place, Barry, took extra care when he hired his staff. Some people are just healers and Nikom is one of those men. I got The Custom (where you discuss what ails you and the masseuse tailors his/her massage to fit your needs). I scheduled an hour, which is $100.00. Now that's not the most expensive massage you'll get but it's not really cheap either. I was splurging. I was going all out. And I'm SO glad I did. Because I noticed he was going over an hour. I was surprised. Now I had called just an hour before to schedule this and might have miscommunicated how long I wanted my massage. That's what I thought had happened until I went to the receptionist to settle up. She said he went over because he felt I needed it! Can you imagine? They still charged me $100.00 but he was generous because HE IS A HEALER!

But first, let me tell you, you walk in and it's like you're suddenly in Bali or something.
The Ravens
And the whole place reeks of sage, and I love this smell. I know to some people it's pot-adjacent but I love love love...
Sage s
Native Sage, 10 bucks, at The Raven in Silverlake
It's the whole place that heals you. Every little thing...
Massage Beds at The Raven
The Main Area
Inside my massage room
You know, I can't remember how I first came across Nikom. Was it through my friend, Amanda, or did we both find him around the same time? I can't remember. All I know is when the going gets tough, the tough, battered, bruised, sad and emo -- if they're smart -- go to Nikom.

And that's it! That's what it took to feel okay, ready to take on the world, cease the self-pity party. I should say, that's what it took this time. Trust me, I have a lot in my quiver to nurse a bruised ego. Because I live here. I like it here. I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to keep trying, persevering and I have to know that rolling with the punches requires some extra TLC.

But man, I wish I had chosen some profession in the self-care industry instead of wanting to be a writer.

I would be really rich right now, right?

The Vedanta Society (Hollywood Temple) which also offers classes, lectures, meditations and private meetings with their head swami is located at 1946 Vedanta Place, Hollywood, CA 90068. It's open from 6 AM to 7 PM Every Day.  Park on Vine for free but always check the signs.

My favorite Whole Foods is at 465 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena, CA 91105. Parking underneath the market.

The Raven Spa of Silverlake is located at 2910 Rowena Avenue, Silverlake, CA 90039. 323.644.0240. Street Parking Available. Always feed your meter extra since you want to relax after! They also have a yoga studio you should check out. In addition, they have a Raven in Santa Monica (I don't know it that well) as well as El Leon in WeHo which I haven't visited for a long time but when I did I absolutely LOVED it.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Highland Park's Elsa's Bakery LOVE

Ela's Bakery
One good thing about moving into a new neighborhood is when you finally find that place that makes you feel at ease, taken care of, maybe even a little bit nurtured.

Highald Park Art Walk
Elsa's Bakery during the Highland Park Art Walk
That place for me is Elsa's Bakery. Elsa's is beyond cheerful; small, intimate, and they remember you. I'm the Norm, they're the Sam and Woody. But they don't tease me. They treat me (and everyone else) like royalty.
Cafes Images

Inside are tons of classic Mexican baked goods. It's their specialty. They're famous for their sweet bread (not organs) both Vanilla and Chocolate...
Pan Dulbc
Pan Dulce
Delicious and fresh breakfast pastries...
Guave Pastries

And they have a rockin breakfast. My favorite thus far is the Desayuno Chapin described as a Traditional Guatemalan breakfast: scrambled eggs with tomato and onions, black beans, plaintains, cream and cheese.
Danayon Chapin
My favorite breakfast: the Traditional Guatamalen
Everything is fresh, even the tortillas...
Homemade Corn Tomrillas
Handmade Tortillas at Elsa's
And they have two for one tacos on Wednesday nights. That's two delicious tacos for $2.50.

But my absolute favorite thing in the whole wide world - the thing that turned it all around for me was:
Firda Kahlo
Frida's Mocha with Polborones
To me, Frida's Mocha is one of the best, calmest coffee drinks ever. And yet it's still strong enough to give you the goose. Spicy, cinnamon-y, perfecto. It was adapted, maybe perfectly, from Frida Kahlo's very own Mocha drink which she had most mornings in her Mexico City home, La Casa Azul, located in Coyoacan. The owners brought the recipe back with them. She might have had it to counterbalance the alcohol and cigs from the night before.
Fridas Mocha
That's my girl
I have it because it's delicious. And let's face it, I think of her every time.

This place is the real deal. In fact they found their chef who's from Puebla, Rosario, who will spend 14 hours making mole so that it's right. Those cookies you saw? Simple, satisfying, not too sweet but man, a hockey puck of goodness, those are Mexican Wedding Cookies and they're FIFTY CENTS A POP. Perfect with a Frida's Mocha.

If you're going, give me a call. I'm probably already there. In fact I'm here right now, typing this, and am supposed to be somewhere else.

That's how much I love this place.

Elsa's Bakery (Pan y Cafe) is at 5102 York Blvd., Highland Park, CA 90042. Tel. is: 323.256.9455. They serve breakfast and Lunch Monday thru Saturday from 7:00am to 2:30pm but most nights they're open 'til 10. Street parking. Always check the meters.
Day of the Ded


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Hello from the Writer's Chair

Dear Opine Reader,

I'm sorry I've not posted in so long! It's all because of a good thing: I'm working on a special script; something I really love. Always a scary place for a writer to be because it's like the boyfriend who is perfect for you and yes, you're sure he's completely flawed but you don't really know how and you certainly don't want to know how just yet because it's been so long since you've been so in love. Yes he could have bad breath and a barely functional car and yet, every little thing about him is delicious, funny, smart, nice -- every little thing is magic. You think of him constantly. You can't wait to see him again. And yet you still haven't introduced him to your friends. Why? You just want a little bit longer for the perfection to live on. The love feelings. The pink cloud. 

I'm never going to break up with this script, but I have a feeling the honeymoon phase is nearing an end. My script has recently met my friends, they have pointed out his flaws, and now because my script is not a person, it's time to change my script so he's as perfect as he can be. Yes, I can change him.

And I do live in Hollywood, someone has to pay for the dog food, and my script must eventually, perfect or not, roam free and find his fans. I can't clutch onto him forever, right? 

It takes a buttload of security to let your script out into the wild like that. Something about my script tells me, I'll be fine no matter what.

And when that day happens, and it will be soon, I'll be back to the blog; my palette cleanser. The blog allows me to write, be myself, without pay, expectation or the need for approbation. Thus far I've received little to no harsh criticism and while I've never said don't disagree with me or point out an error, it's been kind of nice to write in such an easy, breezy atmosphere. I thought maybe no one's reading it - that's why no criticism. But in fact, close to 22,000 people have visited the blog to date and really, that's very cool. It makes me feel so connected and heard by a large world in a very kind way.

But most of all I love my blog because really, it's just a forum to share all that I love about LA and encourages me to go out into the world when I don't have a script I'm in love with. When that's the case, I'm seriously inclined not to leave the house, I fall into a depression, any cheese laying around has a very short shelf life. It's my understanding that at these times it could be a temptation for my loved ones to call the authorities. There are no selfies taken.

So! I promise to get back to this. Many posts are in the hopper:  I went to the Art Walk with my dear friend, Max, in Highland Park, The Rose Bowl Flea Market with Max and Terry - a great time albeit ridiculously hot, and I have a special date planned with a certain little Italian Cannoli named Alice (read her blog, it's da'bomb) for my next food piece focusing on Guisados. Oh, and Elsa's Bakery in Highland Park is coming up as well. Oh my God, it is AMAZING. One of my favorite places in the world. As is Mush in Silverlake - a great store and one I can't wait to photograph.

As for now, I want to write more but I have to get back to this script stuff because I miss him, he me, and I really need to focus on that relationship. 

But like I said, there will be a bursting forth of posts. I do still exist here. And for all of you who keep coming back to look at my other posts, THANK YOU! Especially the visitors from around the world who have gone to the  piece(s) about how to find The Hollywood Sign. It makes me so happy to think I may have helped people find what they were looking for. To date, those two How To Find The Hollywood Sign Posts are by far my most popular. Please feel free to share the word that these are the best directions (at least I think they are) to The Hollywood Sign ever.

Oops, that might encourage some criticism. Oh well!


The Writer in The Chair