Sunday, November 16, 2008

The fires here are pretty incredible, eating up neighborhoods like an uninvited uncle at Thanksgiving. It surprised me that we're having them so late in the year, and I'm always curious at how they start. I know we are having Santa Ana winds, but what I want to know is where the spark comes from. Once one starts, it can set off several due to flying embers carried by the wind. It's smokey here, so much that my apartment smells like I have a fire place and after returning from a late night jaunt to the grocery store, my clothes smell like I've been sitting around a camp fire. Outside, my apartment, the courtyard lights create beams because of the smoke in the air. What's incredible is that nearest fire is twenty miles from here. Yet, the air quality is very poor because there are so many and they form literally, a ring of fire around Los Angeles. We've been told to conserve power because a lot of transformers that supply power to the Los Angeles area have burned.

This afternoon, the daylight had a yellow glow and rays of sun cast orange highlights. The news is 24/7 fire coverage. Literally. I'm guessing they do that because people who are displaced or traveling in those areas need the immediate information to know if they can go home, or status on their neighborhoods if they've been evacuated. Montecito, near Santa Barbara was completely torched. I really feel for everyone who lost homes. It's going to be a long, hard road back. Displacement has to be one of the worst things to go through emotionally.

My hat's off to the firemen and women out there fighting the fires, and my heart goes to those who have lost homes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sorry about the lag. Lately it's just taken a lot out of me to post. Not because of any reason, it's just that sometimes it's easier than others, or I have more of a system. With my wacky schedule haven't been able to nail one down. So, in brief.

My dad came to visit me this weekend and it was great to see him here in Los Angeles. He stayed at a great hotel nearby and we toured LA a little bit and then went to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. If you haven't been to that museum, it's top notch. On Saturday, he took Shannon and me to a very nice dinner at a place called Providence. I'd picked it out after some research and it was definitely first class without being pretentious. It had a warm atmosphere but attentive, professional service. The food was fabulous, and mixed with the ambiance and the company it was just a wonderful experience. Afterward, my dad was game to go with us to the local Irish pub in the neighborhood and even had himself a Guinness. It was a really fun night and that was a perfect ending. The next night, we went to Mozza, another fantastic place. My dad and Marie had found Mozza, and it's just incredible. They'd sent me a gift certificate to go there, and I treated Shannon there on his birthday. It was really fun to see my dad enjoying Los Angeles and having a great time. And on Saturday, fun to watch him and Shannon swap stories. If you live in Los Angeles, both places require reservations and are well worth a visit. I'll talk more about dad's visit, but I said I'd be brief.

I went to the Madonna concert after winning free tickets from one of the creative talent agencies that I'm registered with. Their company had 50 tickets, and the ones that they didn't use, they raffled off. Weird thing is, when I entered the contest, I knew I would win. It was one of those things where I sat and wondered if I was doing anything else that night of the concert because I knew I'd win. And, I did. Before we left, they had a few drinks and refreshments. On the way there, I'd passed a hooptie school bus and wondered if that was our ride. It was. Note to all those arranging events: Don't serve beer on the bus if it doesn't have a toilet. Luckily, yours truly doesn't like beer, but I still didn't drink the water that was offered because I knew that the traffic in Los Angeles is unpredictable. And sure enough, it was. We came to a stop a few miles from Dodger Stadium and stopped moving. And sure enough, it started. First one or two people asked when there was going to be a bathroom break, then a few more. They allowed people to get off the bus once, but as we all know...once you take that first piss when you're drinking, it's over. Especially on a no frills school bus with 50 people cooped up inside. I wondered if underneath my seat were dried boogers and gum. Not to mention, how many school lunch farts the seat I was sitting on had absorbed in its time. Luckily, I'd placed myself at the front of the bus, knowing that I have a bit of a claustrophobia issue. I was fine, but an all out war was about to begin. The people who had peed once needed to again, and there were a few people dead set on making them hold it. I sympathized with both. When you have to pee so badly that you're sweating bullets, it's the worst. At the same time, you can't just let people jump into four lane traffic in East LA to search for a place to pee. One, it could cost the driver his license. Two, it's not the safest thing to do. So, as I sat there, tempers started to flare on both sides. It was the employees who were sniping at each other. The women who were trying to keep order were speaking to their fellow employees as if they were errant children, while the people who had to pee begged and pleaded to get off the bus. Some even sniping back. Finally, one woman started to force the doors open and they let her get off. Eventually, we got to a place where we could pull the bus over and walk the rest of the way. The traffic was that bad.

The concert was okay. I wouldn't have gone to see Madonna had it not been for free, as I'm not a huge fan of hers or of big ass stadium concerts. That is, unless you are U2 or The Stones, both of whom I saw outside in huge venues. Madonna had the bass way too cranked up and she appeared to be lipsynching. Dodger Stadium is antiquated in its facilities and has a ridiculous parking set up. After the concert, we spent a large time trying to find the proper signage to tell us where the area was where we were supposed to meet the bus. I was walking with the militant pisser who had forced her way off the bus and a couple others. There was a gas station right in the middle of the parking lot that had restrooms inside. It was abandoned, but being me, I tried the door anyway. The militant pisser had almost passed it by, but I told her, "Urban rule #1. You always try the door." I did, and it opened. We were walking in when a beefy African-American cop walked toward us out of the darkness. I smiled, he smiled and said, "You two can be my guests." And there it was. We'd found the emergency services designated bathroom. We thanked him, then relieved ourselves in two very clean stalls.

The ride home was mostly quiet. No near riots over pissing rights. Unfortunately, I lost my beloved shawl, an expensive cashmere shawl that I'm rarely without because it's easy to pull out when it gets more chilly. When I emailed the agency to ask if anyone had turned it in, I heard back that one of the employees had seen it on the street the next morning but didn't think anything of it. To say I'm colossally bummed is an understatement, because I can't afford a new one right now and it's such a staple of my wardrobe. I have a backup, but it's not cashmere and has seen a little wear in its time. Even so, I feel like Linus without his blanket.