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This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Quakes, Jerks and Yelling at Bourdain

Warning: If you find yourself here via a google search for such things as TV shows or films, recipes or cities, this blog has some facts. However, this blog is one author’s very twisted musing on many weird things. It is sometimes graphic in content. If you read on, don’t write to yell at me.

This is an odd blog, full of rantings at people I usually adore. The rants are justified and the admiration has not changed, so no snarky e-mails. One of my local weather dopplergangers has taken to doing a video blog, or vlog as he likes to keep reminding viewers. Jon asked if I would ever do one of those. He was being facetious. On Sundays, I make no efforts toward my appearance until very late in the day. I’m usually very, very tired and facing a long day of prep for the week. Did I mention that I’m very tired? It’s not a pretty picture. Best not to inflict it on the unsuspecting.

Not a Lot of Shaking Going On

LA had an earthquake this week. It was officially a 5.4. That’s a little stronger than mild, but nowhere near the Northridge quake in 1994. Not even remotely close. Still, the quake on July 29th could technically be called the biggest quake LA has had in years. However, just running that headline can cause problems for people on the east coast who aren’t given the perspective behind the headline – which was in bold type on the CNN headline ticker. And then when said relative, my nephew in this case, calls and the lines are jammed (with other relatives calling all at once) a freak out ensued. Jon and I were just finishing breakfast. The shaking was definitely noticeable and it lasted long enough for Jon to get queasy in the office chair. I had been wondering if the side to side swaying would shift to the more violent up and down tremor (that’s when you have to consider exiting the building) when it faded to a stop. It wasn’t strong enough to collapse our crappy bookshelves. So, I went back to packing lunch and Jon went back to working on a book cover. However, I had him send a mass e-mail to head off the worried relatives and friends.

And they were worried. My nephew got through an hour after he started calling. He was very upset and had called around to my father and brother to find out if they knew anything. After repeated assurances that CNN had jumped the gun a bit, I got him to call everyone back to let them know Jon and I were on our way to work as usual. Later that night, we saw a repeat of CNN’s coverage on Anderson Cooper’s 360. It was really scary and exciting and not remotely what had happened. I think they had to scour the county for some rubble and they didn’t find much. It was appalling. So appalling that an LA Times columnist, Joel Stein, had to an editorial that summed it up very nicely for me. Click on his name for the full and very amusing article, but here are my two favorite paragraphs:

Even the usually responsible Associated Press reported in its first paragraph that the quake "sent people running into the streets." Really? Running into the streets? Like in a "Godzilla" movie? How about "sent people walking onto the sidewalks so they could take a break from their jobs and talk about the earthquake, and then get coffee before going back inside to check some news websites until it was time to go home."


And please, CNN, next time there's an earthquake or a fire, give my family members who watch your network all day a little context. I just need Wolf Blitzer to say, "Although this is a very exciting development we'll be following closely for the next 48 hours, no one in L.A. is dead, injured or at all interested." Then maybe I can limit their news-related calls to how little my house is worth now.

Still, we really appreciated the concern from our wonderful relatives and friends. You should know (this means you, mom-in-law) that Jon and I actually have a earthquake plan. Despite the nonchalance of Angelinos, most do. We have an escape route to an open location that is free of structures and powerlines that is steps from our door. Coindicentally, it’s the same spot we have to flee to in escaping a tsunami. Aditionally, there is a police station, a large school, a community center and two churches within steps to get info and help. We have all the stuff in the survival manual that comes with everyone’s white pages. And finally, our building was being retro-fitted for earthquakes when we were moving in It even has the fancy, automatic gas valve shut-off to prevent fire. We’re all good. I even called my actor friends. They are all fine if a little derisive of all the coverage.

Hey Ant-ny!

I am now going to yell at Anthony Bourdain. Of course, I’m shocked that I feel compelled to, but it must be done. The Travel Channel often runs mini-marathons of its popular shows. That was how I actually began watching No Reservations. There were a punch running this week as part of their pre-Olympic China coverage. I taped those and an earleir episode that I didn’t remember seeing. It was his trip to LA. Two minutes into the show I’m annoyed, then infuriated. After lauding the ‘real Angelinos’ for toiling in jobs that have nothing to do with Show Biz, he hooks up with a writer he professes to admire, Jerry Stahl. He says that Stahl is a Hollywood writer but not really Hollywood. Excuse me? He writes for Bruckheimer’s number one show. CSI is as Hollywood as you get. Mind you, he wrote some of my favorite episodes of CSI and introduced my favorite character, classy Dominatrix Lady Heather) He also wrote for ALF, thirtysomething and Moonlighting. He has never not been Hollywood. I really, really can’t stand Jerry Stahl.

The one argument Craig and I ever had was over this man’s self-serving, sniveling autho-biography, Permanent Mindnight in which he basically blames his heroine addiction on the soul-killing environment of television writing. Soul killing? Is there a heretofore unknown slavery ring that forces unwilling writers to take five figure per week salaries at point of gun or threat of bullwhip? At the time I read that book, Craig and I were working for just above minimum wage retail jobs in the Entitlement Zone. Three quarters of the staff were drinking on the job or using other substances to keep from strangling customers. I couldn’t understand anyone admiring this man’s whining at not getting to follow his real passion. I know a lot of working Hollywood writers that find a way to publish or perform their poetry or make experimental films just to make them. They can afford to! Then, they made a movie about Stahl’s suffering soul. Thankfully, that version of Permanent Midnight was ignored in droves. Of late, he’s been charging aspiring writers $150 a half hour to get his advice on-line. A writer I know paid for it before talking to me. She was dismayed and very angry to have wasted that much money only to have him talk about his drug abusing days with wistful nostalgia and then deride the industry that he was supposedly helping her to join.

Stahl’s pick of a food joint for Anthony Bourdain was Roscoe’s, a chicken and waffle joint near Paramount Studios. Though Bourdain liked the atmosphere and the clientele, he wasn’t impressed with the chicken and waffles. Jon and I hadn’t been either. Incidentally, we’ve yet to find a soul food restaurant here that didn’t make us shrug in indifference. We’ve been to many like Aunt Kizzy’s Back Proch, which is literally in the nighborhood and Baby Blues which made it onto Food Network’s Diner’s Drive-Ins and Dives, but I find that the sides like collard greens or mac and cheese are too spicy or busy (too many extra ingredients). But back to Mr. Bourdain’s taste in Hollywood types. Hey Ant-ny, wake up. Recovery from addiction does not necessarily make a person stop being a self-absorbed jerk – just a clean self-abosorbed jerk. You re-connected with an old friend later in that same ep who deserved being admired for his recovery. And while I’m yelling at you. Not everyone drives in LA. That public transit you dismissed is jammed every day. And there are noble souls who toil in the industry and who live outside of East LA.

I still admire Mr. Bourdain and will continue watching No Reservations (I watched three more after the LA show that day). Sometimes you have to swat Jersey boys in the back of the head. I often do with Craig, but that's mainly for putting songs like The Night Chicago Died or Patches in my head.

I’m off to work on myriad writing projects. We have onther title going live on amazon.com this week. I’ve had some really good questions about writing pitches and some other things. I have to think about how to intelligently reply. As always, stay tuned.

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