A couple weeks ago, I went to LA. I’ve been dying to get back there since my last trip in '05. (I know it's a little strange that I signed with Way-Cool Manager in ‘06 and had a movie made in '07 without a visit to LA, but Bizarro World is my natural habitat).
This time, I flew out for a meeting relative to my lawsuit but decided to stay a couple extra days and make the trip productive.
Here's something I noticed: Hollywood feels different when you’re part of it than when you’re merely visiting. After I picked up the rental car, I headed toward the hills and got my first post-production glimpse of the Hollywood sign -- and couldn’t help grinning like the dork I’ll always be.
Spent my first night, Saturday, in Pasadena at a close friend’s place. Coming from Florida -- which has the topographic relief of plywood -- I loved Pasadena and the mountains all around. Met some friends out that night at NeoMeze, a funky restaurant in Old Town, and made merry ‘til the time difference (and lingering laryngitis) caught up with me.
Sunday morning, I drove back to LA and met an exec-friend for brunch at La Conversation in Beverly Hills (I recommend the French Toast). Snagged a nice little table on the sidewalk beside a couple of older guys discussing a script. I didn't recognize their faces, but I bet I'd recognize their names. Anyway, I hadn’t seen this exec-friend since we were children (our moms are best friends) so it was fun getting to know her a bit and catching up on our lives.
Afterward, I tooled over to the less-glamorous side of town to check into the hotel I’d call home for the next few nights. There, I discovered my room got no cell reception and no internet and I had a brief hyperventilish 28 DAYS LATER moment.
Ran back down to the lobby to make contact with the outside world, then picked up Greg and went to Doughboys. I enjoyed a gallon-mug of latte and some good conversation and discovered he’s really not so Grumpy. (Sorry to out you, G.)
Quick wardrobe change, then up to Studio City to do dinner with 2.5 cousins. They took me to Genghis Cohen, which is the best name for a Chinese restaurant, ever (and is, in fact, not in Studio City, but just a few minutes from my freaking hotel). The food and atmosphere were terrific -– plus, my cousin's husband pointed out Mary J. Blige at the table behind us, and their adorable 18 month-old son ran smack into Elle Fanning outside the restroom. I loved the place.
But now I was running late to my own damn party. On my girlfriend’s recommendation, I’d invited a bunch of friends to Three of Clubs on N. Vine. Driving down from Studio City in the dark I couldn’t find Vine. Then I couldn’t find the address. Then I couldn’t find the damn entrance to the joint. About two hours late, I finally found my way into the pitch-dark bar. Some voices called out to me, “Norm”-like, when I entered, but it was a few minutes before my eyes adjusted enough to make out who-all I was hugging. Fun little bar, great time with great friends. Or whoever those people were.
Driving back to my hotel in the dark… bright lights of Hollywood all around… that dorky grin again…
We’ll skip Monday, which was an all-day meeting, the reason for my trip, and largely uneventful. (Perhaps, one day, I’ll share the “eventful” bits…) I will say, though, that my litigation attorney is brilliant and if y’all are ever involved in a lawsuit, you should be so lucky as to have him in your corner.
Monday night the laryngitis threatened a relapse, but a girl’s gotta eat. A delightful pro-writer-dude I've known online for a while met me at trés cool Sushi Roku in Hollywood. The food was delicious –- I’m sure my chopsticks were a blur -- and I chugged buckets of hot green tea, miso soup and wee cups of sake and somehow held onto my voice, which I needed for…
…Tuesday -- and my morning meeting with the Incredibly Cool & Smart Producer Who’s Nevertheless a Fan of My Work at a Starbucks in Beverly Hills. Not one to shun tradition, I got lost and wound up an unfashionable 20 minutes late. Luckily, she didn’t hold it against me, Gomer From Out of Town that I am. We got to know each other and swapped life stories and gossip for a while. Then she proceeded to give me in-depth and dead-on notes on THE MIDDLE AGES –- verbally, off-the-cuff, with nothing in hand but her iced coffee. And she told me not to worry about writing any of it down, she’d email it to me later (which she did: six pages’ worth of insight all geared toward helping me fulfill the promise of my premise). When I learn to chisel busts out of marble, I am so doing hers first.
From there, I had to rush off to meet my transactional attorney for lunch. We’ve spoken on the phone hundreds of times since he negotiated my POOL BOY option, but this was the first we’d met. I was enjoying the bird’s-eye view of Beverly Hills from his lobby, when he came out and greeted me with a big hug. Good thing, too, ‘cause I had one for him that was long overdue. We’d planned a little party, but my Way-Cool Manager was home with the flu and my litigation attorney was fluish, too, so it was just the two of us at Mr. Chow. The fact that I’d heard of the restaurant should’ve tipped me off to its hot-spotness, but I was enjoying the company and the food so much, I almost missed seeing Keenan Ivory Wayans and Kevin Sorbo. (Not together -– let's not start any rumors…) I’m not a neck-craning celebrity-watcher, so I can’t tell you who else was there that didn’t happen to walk in front of me.
After lunch, I headed off to my Way-Cool Manager’s office to meet his Equally-Cool Partners. One of the partners -- I’ll call her Hot & Smart Chick Manager -- I’ve spoken with on the phone a few times and gotten some kick-ass notes from, and I was especially looking forward to meeting her. She was just as smart and hot in person and we talked all over the industry and the town and my work and my career and before I knew it, I’d overstayed my parking meter by like 30 minutes.
Brett had told me he’d gotten a $47 parking ticket in LA, so I expected the envelope on the windshield. Didn’t expect the ticket to be $140, though. (Apparently, they don’t like you to park along Wilshire after 4pm. Now you know.) And to think, I’d parked at the meter ‘cause I wanted to avoid paying $12 for parking...
By now, it was nearly 5pm and I was freaking exhausted and losing my voice again. I dragged myself into Rite Aid, bought some lozenges and a crappy nukable dinner and ate them in my room. (The room didn’t have cell or internet access, but it did have a functional microwave.) I was in bed by 7pm, watched two hours of Idol boys, then conked out -- ready to step off the Hollywood treadmill and get back home to my own personal chaos.
Reliving the trip through this post, I've noticed a few things:
~I ate my way across Los Angeles. Lucky for me, I have very little social life here at home, else I'd be a house.
~I know (all too well) that there are a lot of greedy assholes in Hollywood, but the gods of such things have smiled upon me and hooked me up with The Good Guys.
~If you want to see celebrities when you visit LA, go out for Chinese.