Thursday, November 15, 2012

"God, I forgot how big he is."

That was the first thing my dad said upon seeing Oliver, my Maine Coon cat, when we stopped by my apartment for a bathroom break after being stuck in traffic in Hollywood. Someone had called in a bomb threat at Hollywood and Highland, and the police had a huge section of Hollywood Blvd. blocked off. It snarled up traffic so badly that I peeled off and took to the alleys to get us out of there. Once I made my move, three other cars followed me, and we snaked in and out of alleyways, working our way up parallel to the parking lot that all the surface streets had become. I was glad to have my little Volvo C30 T5R, which did marvelously in the tight turns. God, I love that car. I felt like we were in a scene from Ronin, with a Mercedes behind me and two follow cars that were counting on me to lead us out of Hollywood.

My dad came to visit in September, and Los Angeles was kind enough to provide him with 100-degree heat. However, he stays at the Hotel Amarano, a boutique hotel up the street, as my one-bedroom apartment is just too small for most visitors. The Amarano, which opened about four years ago, has been great for his visits to Los Angeles. They really offer impeccable service and filled a huge void for a luxury hotel near the studios. And, I'll add that they make a fantastic cosmo.

The day before our harrowing escape from Hollywood, we went to see the Edgar Payne exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. Edgar Payne painted mostly plein air, which considering he painted in the early 20th century and the large scale of his paintings, some several feet high and wide, is a pretty darn incredible feat. Think of all the supplies, paints, oils, mineral spirits, brushes, palettes, canvases and easels that he and his band of couriers had to carry to remote locations in the Sierras and Navajo territories. He even made it to Europe to paint the Matterhorn and merchant ships in France and Italy. The work was absolutely spectacular, with robust colors mixed with subtle hues and rich textures. And his impressionist style meant that whenever you moved a few feet, you saw a different painting. The museum did an awesome job with the exhibit, really showcasing the work in a way that it could be appreciated.  My dad is an avid oil painter, with a love for painting landscapes. He heard that the exhibit would be showing in Los Angeles and timed his visit to see it.

That evening, we had dinner with Shannon at Off Vine, my first visit back since the place had been rebuilt after a fire had gutted it.They really did a stellar job recreating the original charm of the restaurant, which is inside a craftsman house. They also updated things like the restroom and upper floor for more room and convenience. And of course, dinner was delicious. It was a beautiful night and we ate outside on the patio. Though you're in Hollywood, it doesn't feel like it.

The day that had us coming home ala Ronin, we had just had brunch at the Hotel Bel Air, which was nothing short of fabulous. Stellar service, luscious grounds, delicious food and just plain wonderful. I wore a summer dress and pearls and my dad offered to make and wear a button that said, "Yes, she really is my daughter." That cracked me up. We sat under a canopy in an outdoor dining area and ate the several course meal to our heart's content. The last time my dad was here, he took me to brunch at San Ysidiro Ranch. I won't lie...I'm liking this trend a lot.

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