(not the teenage kind)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

AM Radio

At the luxury hotel where the pup and I are staying during the bathroom remodel (aka mom's house), the alarm clock is set to AM radio. This morning we awoke to hear the reports about the fires in the mountains not that far from our house. The announcer interviewing the reporter would best be described as incompetent. Here is the very small part of the interview I heard before my screaming became too loud to be able to hear this display of ineptitude anymore:

Announcer: Many people in Los Angeles have family and friends nearby. Is that where the evacuees are going?
Reporter: Well, actually, they have set up a shelter for them in Canoga Park.
Announcer: I think I'd just go to a hotel.
Me (screaming): You'll have to find one that take morons!!!!!!

Later I was flipping stations on my car radio and a whole 'nother announcer said "Chatworth" instead of "Chatsworth."

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Living In The Lap Of Luxury

During the bathroom remodel, the pup and I have moved into my mom's house and it is just like staying at a luxury hotel. That is because she has all these amenities that we do not have at home. Like a television in the bedroom. And like spotlights over the bed so we can read. We have been reading and watching television in bed. I know! And the great thing too is that, even though there are more amenities than at home, there are also familiar touches like no food in the refrigerator and mushy pillows. We just might decide never to leave.

Not that we won't be able too, though. Day two of the bathroom remodeling saw much progress. There is now tile on the wall and tile on the floor. We are tiled....just painting and fixture installation to go. When they say one week bath, they mean one week bath.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Homage to the Bathroom

I know I have been bad about posting on the blog. The reason I started this blog was because I wanted to make myself write and my goal was to write something everyday. But somewhere along the way I lost a little bit of my enthusiasm. Maybe it is because some people told me my entries were too long, some people told me my entries were too short. I need to remember that I started this blog for me and not for other people.

One reason I haven't been writing is that there is a lot going on. For example, there is now an Andy Gump in front of my house. Yep, I am finally remodeling and updating my bathroom. As I was packing up on Sunday night I got kind of sad because at heart I am a preservationist and I have seen so many charming houses ruined by people trying to make things more modern. Of course there are pictures:

Charming huh?

I have contracted with a company called One Week Bath. They have promised to finish my bathroom in just five days, actually the contractor told me yesterday he thinks he can do it in four. They take everything out and replace everything brand new. Brand new floor, brand new paint, brand new fixtures, brand new baseboards, brand new everything. Really. In five days.

Day one was yesterday. They have completely gutted the bathroom and installed the new bathtub. The new bathtub is deeper and wider than the old one. This is good for me and taking baths. This is bad for the move around space in the bathroom. Here is the funny thing. That bathroom looks even smaller without anything in it then it did completely filled. It is a shockingly small, small, tiny room.

Everything is going well except that they broke a hole through the wall the bathroom shares with the kitchen and they broke the lock on my back door. Yes, there is now a slight hole in my kitchen wall. But my mother says the lock thing just has to be some sort of coincidence. I will keep you posted on the progress....

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Where Have All The Manners Gone?

don dokken and I saw Steve Earle and Kris Kristofferson in concert at Royce Hall on Sunday night (two concerts in one weekend - I know!) We ran into Harry Dean Stanton outside smoking before the show. He looked scary. The concert started at 7:00 because (I thought) me and Kris and Harry Dean Stanton are all old and have to get to bed early on a Sunday night. Except Steve Earle came on first and played and talked and talked and played. He was funny and inspiring. And he brought wife number six out to sing with him. And then played and talked some more. By the time Kris K. came out it was probably going on 9:00.

Both of them played without their bands. It was just Kris Kristofferson on stage with his guitar. Royce Hall was a strange choice for this kind of concert. It is not huge but also not an intimate venue. Kris Kristofferson was really generous with his time and his songwriting gift. He just kept singing one song after another. And the people in the audience started walking out. In droves.

I have never seen anything like it or anything quite so rude. Towards the middle of his set, he would play a song and when it was done people would clap and then huge chunks of people would leave the auditorium. don dokken wanted to put his foot into the aisle and trip them all. Only he would have needed about a hundred feet. This kept happening until the supposedly sold-out house was almost half empty. He was so graceful about it, making jokes like "It's almost over, I swear."

Those of us who were left who had been seated more towards the back, starting walking to the stage. So it ended up with a group of people standing in front him or to the side of him right up front, turning Royce Hall into the smaller venue that it should have been. And he kept shaking hands. He played until after 11:00.

The man is close to 70. During one of his songs he listed all his great friends who have died recently like Johnny Cash. He is living the good life in Hawaii with his young wife and their young kids. How many more concerts is he really going to give? All those people who left are rude and stupid. Sorry, this one makes me REALLY cranky.

Monday, September 19, 2005

I Ask You

If there is an exit off the Hollywood Freeway that is labeled "Melrose Avenue" on the first line of the sign and "Normandie Avenue" on the second line of the same sign, would you say that there is a Normandie Avenue exit off of the Hollywood Freeway? Just wondering.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Tall People Rock

I always forget that I am short. That is because at (barely) 5' 4", I am a giant in my own family. I am taller than my mother, sister, aunts, and several cousins. So it comes as a shock when I am out in the real world and I realize that I am pretty shrimpy.

Last night don dokken and I went to see Paul Weller at the (ab fab, built in 1931) Wiltern Theatre. (Hey, remember that great and peppy Style Council hit song, "My Ever Changing Moods?" Yeah, well, he didn't play it.) Before the show, don dokken and I stopped for a cocktail and I mentioned how I am getting old and cranky. That is when he broke it to me that they have taken the seats out of the floor level of the Wiltern Theatre and, though there are still seats in the balcony, we did not have tickets for any of those and would be standing (standing!) on the floor for the whole duration of the concert. Didn't I just say that I am old and cranky?

We made our way to the center section and it was about five people deep. Five rows of very tall people deep. I could not really see the stage. The Very Tall Guy standing next to us offered to lift me up on his shoulders. A little while later I saw a patch of shorter looking people in a different area and pointed them out to don dokken. It was then that Very Tall Guy stooped down to my level and he must have then felt very sorry for me because the next thing I knew he handed me his two tickets for seats in the balcony section. Seats. I was so touched and grateful and I offered to buy him a drink. He declined and said "Just do good things every day and be supportive of art and artists always." That should be easy.

don dokken felt we should wait to see how things went before actually going to the seats. He had a good point. A concert is always better the closer you are and way up in the balcony we would lose all the good energy that usually happens near the stage. And it was fine. I could see Paul Weller and I could see the drummer. And that is about all I could see but, really, it felt like enough.

Except then the show ended and Paul and the band came out for the encores. Two women in the very first row left and everyone started moving up. The two Very Tall Gals in front of me realized that I had been standing behind them the whole time and took my arm and got me right up to the front. Without all the tall people blocking me I saw things that I did not even know were there. Like the keyboardist. Like the people trying to jump onstage and the security kicking them off. Like Paul Weller at the piano.

So thank you Very Tall Guy and Very Tall Gals at the Paul Weller concert for giving me your balcony seats and for getting me to the front row. And I just wanted to let you know that you can come to my house anytime if you get a hankering to change some light bulbs or clean some top shelves or any of those other things that tall people do without having to think twice. You guys rock.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Ciao Ambassador Hotel

The Ambassador Hotel is most famously known as the place where Robert F. Kennedy was shot and killed. But it was much more than that. It was a grand hotel that opened on January 1, 1921 and housed the famous Cocoanut Grove nightclub which, starting in the thirties, showcased so many popular performers - Judy Garland, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Nat King Cole - to name a very, very few. There were also six Academy Award ceremonies held there and the list of dignataries who stayed there includes Charlie Chaplin and Winston Churchill. It was a huge piece of property. The hotel had 1,000 rooms on 27 acres.

There is also architectural significance there. The coffee shop was designed by Paul Williams, an African American architect who was also responsible for the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, parts of USC, and others.

The Ambassador closed in 1989 and two years later was bought by Donald Trump who was going to build an 125 story building but was stymied or maybe he went bankrupt. He sold the property in 2001 to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). And then things got ugly. LAUSD wanted to tear down the hotel and build a K-12 multi-school campus that would serve 4,200 students. Preservationists stepped in to try and protect the hotel site and block the demolition. The Hispanic community came out in support of the LAUSD, the schools are overcrowded and this new school was much needed. The Kennedy family came out in support of LAUSD as well. Robert F. Kennedy would have approved of the site of his death becoming a place that helped children and, besides, why would his family want to preserve a site that caused them so much grief? The lawyer of Sirhan Sirhan, Robert F. Kennedy's killer, came out in support of preservation. They would be destroying evidence that could clear is client....

The preservationists offered many compromises which the LAUSD pretty much rejected. In the end, after years and years of legal wrangling and community meetings, an agreement was reached where LAUSD would give mucho dineros to the preservationist to be used to preserve and upgrade existing schools and the Ambassador Hotel is going down. At least that is how I think it all ended up. It got darn confusing.

I think maybe they are going to somehow preserve the kitchen where RFK was shot but how? Jill asked if you move the site of an historic event from the location where the historic event occured, is it still really the site of the historic event? She said they might as well just build a set.

And all this is the lead in to tell you how I spent a good many hours yesterday at the final auction of the last remaining remnants of the Ambassador Hotel. The old good stuff was auctioned off years ago but don dokken and I went in the hopes that we could get a piece of history. Only there was mainly junk.

And people were willing to pay lots of bucks for what was mostly junk and what was mostly from the later, non impressive years of the hotel. It was a heart tug between nostalgia and knowing you were not really purchasing anything of value or even from the period time that was interesting (at least to me.)

The auction house was unprepared for the number of people who showed up. But many people looked, then left, realizing that there was nothing funky or cool left to buy. I am linking this Los Angeles Times article which captures the feelings of most of the people there. The guy they refer to at the beginning was actually sitting next to us. Wacky.

There was also an elderly woman there who was selling and autographing her book "Are the Stars Out Tonight? The Story of the Famous Ambassador and Cocoanut Grove 'Hollywood's Hotel.' " Turns out she was the PR person at the Ambassador for many years. People were flocking to buy the book and talk to her. She signed ours "Great to know you! I hope you enjoy the Ambassador as much as I did." Then she signed her name - Margaret Tante Burk and told me that her number is listed in the phone book if I want to call her. I was telling her how much things were selling for - a safe for $6,000 for example - and she kept shaking her head. "I don't think some of things were ever really even in the hotel," she said. I told her they were selling the menus. "Pieces of paper," she said. "Why would anyone want those?" I didn't even tell her that many of them were water damaged.

I don't know if you have ever been to an auction but they are intense. Things move fast and don dokken would be telling me to raise the paddle for $50 when they were already at $150. We tried for a few things - a painting that ended up going for $200 and a sofa. don dokken was interested in an IBM Selectric typewriter that was in terrible condition and would need a lot of work and was a typewriter. He would have paid $20 and it went for $65. There were four signs we were interested in. More than interested. I really wanted them. But I got outbid.

By this time it was 2:30. don dokken had left and losing those items and going through the intensity of the bidding by myself made me sad. It was a fairly hot day but also very gloomy. The decaying Ambassador Hotel was in the background. I had been there since 8:00 and I could not stay any longer even though they were auctioning off some menus and a table saw that don dokken really, really wanted. don dokken feels that we wasted our day. He is depressed that he did not get his table saw. I look at it totally differently. We had an interesting experience. We got to see the Ambassador Hotel once last time. They will be starting the tear-down process on Wednesday. Here is what it looked like as I said good-bye:

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Dead Bird Drowning

I knew I shouldn't have gotten the fountain. The fountain has been nothing but trouble. If you recall, I did not ask the appropriate questions about the operation of the fountain and had to wait a hundred years for an electrician and pay mucho dollares. Then, once installed, I realized that I would be the one responsible for the upkeep of the fountain. I am very bad at upkeep and chores. I tried to delegate this responsibility to the gardener but he has a lot to do as far as maintenance and upkeep. He is doing an excellent job. Only he and I have both been ignoring the fountain.

This morning I went looking for the pup's frisbee and took a quick glance at the fountain. And then took a quick glance away. Because there was a dead bird in there. A decomposing dead bird being eaten by ants. don dokken bravely offered to remove the bird but, after taking a look at the actual reality, realized he could not do it. Though both of us wish we were the kind of people who could just take care of dead decomposing ant eaten birds and then eat breakfast, we just are not. I am sure we have many other fine qualities.

I was weighing my alternatives which looked few and far between when I remembered the newish city 311 number. I am the kind of person who tries to get the most out of the things I pay for so I keep tabs on the various governmental organizations. I used to have in my phone book the numbers of the various city offices - street lighting, cat lady neighbor problem line, trash pick-up, etc. And then they combined everything into one number - the 311. I love the 311. I called it most recently when a dumpster was mysteriously parked in front of cat lady's house, partly blocking my driveway. In the end they were no help at all but they were so nice. And they really tried. And it was like 11:00 at night and they were there and ready and willing. Just not so able. But I don't mean to put down the 311 because every single other time I have called they have solved the problem.

And they did not let me down this time. They said they were going to dispatch someone immediately to come pick up the dead decomposing bird from the fountain! All I had to do was write them a note giving permission to do so. And this is why I don't mind paying taxes. They really do good things with that tax money sometimes.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Television

I had not watched the television since Monday night at the hotel at the happiest place in the world. Late, late at night when I could not sleep I turned on CNN and saw a reporter standing in the French Quarter and declaring it dry as a bone. Monday night late. I have purposely stayed away from the television. It is not that I don't know the news. I listen to NPR. I do my internet investigations. But I did not think I could bear to see the pictures and hear the stories.

This morning my temporary assistant came in and told me that George Bush said we should only get gas if we need it. That became our running joke of the day. We talked about all the unnecessary gasoline we had stored around our houses just because we felt like it, not because we really needed it. But, you know, because the Prez asked, we weren't going to do that anymore.

I went to the car wash and there was a television and I watched CNN for the first time since Monday night. My emotional reaction was mitigated by this elderly woman there who kind of got it but kind of didn't. She was upset when she heard about a bus evacuating people that overtuned on the highway. But then there was a report about a woman who had called the day before from the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans about how terrible things had gottten there and the elderly woman could not understand how things could be bad at the Ritz Carlton. "They have no electricity and no sewage," the woman sitting next to me said. The elderly woman was still puzzled. "No toilets," I said. "No water. The toilets don't flush." Still puzzlement. The woman next to me said, "The heat doesn't work." I said, "Well, worse, the air conditioning doesn't work."

And then I got a little hooked on CNN. I went on the treadmill when I got home and tuned in just in time for Anderson Cooper. Okay, Anderson either needs a nap bigtime or is a terrible reporter. He was reporting from a town in Mississipi and kept thinking he was in Texas. And he began a story about racial tension saying something like "Nobody's talking about it but could race be an issue in all of this?" Do you think?

I am not going to say too much about this because there are so many people saying things with so many more facts and so much more eloquently than I ever could. But I will say this:

(1) the FEMA guy, who was appointed by W and was apparently some sort of corporate lawyer with no kind of emergency background, is a cold hearted jerk.
(2) It is pretty embarassing to be a citizen of this country right about now.
(3) I am not sure what to do to help. It is overwhelming. kruthless works for a hospital system which is not only adopting a hospital in the Gulf but giving employees their paid time off to go for a month and work in striken areas. If I were a medical practitioner, I would be there.
(4) We need to elect people who will pay attention to this global warming stuff.
(5) CNN makes me cry. No more television for now.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Lights, Helicopters, Action, EVIDENCE

Excitement in Sherman Oaks, you all! Last night at 3 am, the pup ran to the front window and barked and barked and barked. I got up to look out the front window and find out what he was all excited about. So, people keep telling me that looking out the window was very, very brave of me. But that is because I forgot to tell them that before doing so I grabbed my glasses and my panic button. Those glasses of mine, very powerful weapon.

At first I did not see anything when I looked out the window but then a car came screeching around the corner and stopped in the middle of the street in front of the house next door and I saw that it was a police car and there was a police officer standing in the middle of the street. The police car made its way down about 1/2 a block or so and stopped. The police officer remained standing in the middle of the street in front of the house next door. The pup kept barking and barking and barking but finally got all tired and we went back to bed.

And then the helicopters started. Shining lights in my backyard, circling and circling for about an hour until it was 4:30 am in the morning. And the pup? He was all calmed down. I will never understand why he barks at lawnmowers and mail deliveries and fireworks and thunder but not at scary helicopters that go on and on for hours. Never.

In the morning I almost kind of forgot the whole thing happened. I went out to my driveway to get the newspaper and found this:

Yep, a key to an Acura car. A car that is not mine. So I got to work and called the police and explained that there was police activity in my neighborhood and then I found this key and they put me on hold and kept coming back and asking more questions. And then they came back and asked "Did you say it was a key to an Acura?" And then they wanted to know where I was and where the key was and then they said they were sending officers to come to my office to pick up the EVIDENCE and come talk to me.

Man, you would have thought I won an academy award I was so excited at the thought that I had EVIDENCE. And I pictured two burly wise-cracking cops coming to my office to fill me in on the crime and fingerprint me and re-enact the moment I found the EVIDENCE. So you can imagine my disappointment when the police arrived and it was a girl with braces who looked young enough to be my great-granddaughter. I kept asking her pertinant questions like "Am I going to get a reward?" and "My dog played a major role in alerting me to the crime. Can you give him a medal? It would really help with his self esteem." and "Don't you need to fingerprint me so you can distinguish my fingerprints from the bad guys fingerprints?" and she kept giggling.

She did tell me that there was a break-in down the street and that she believes they caught the bad guys but that they impounded all the cars around the house because they did not know which were legit and which might be the bad guys car and one of the impounded cars was an Acura. Thus the excitement about my Acura EVIDENCE. She took my phone number and said the guys who were there last night were still in the office and they would probably be calling me. About my reward, I am sure.

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