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Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Entries in los angeles (16)

Friday
Jan222010

In Which It's Like They Know I Don't Smoke

Pretend to Wave

by ALMIE ROSE

So we’re at that place we always go to, and by always, I mean something like five times a year. But every time we’re here it feels like we’re always here. Maybe because nothing about this hipster lounge/bar/art space/salon/I don’t know what in Culver City never changes. The crowd is always disappointing. The women are always far more attractive than the men, the most attractive men are outside smoking, and they’re always with the more attractive women anyways. But we keep going here.

We realize that life could be far worse.

So we go here and I always order a dirty martini and she never does and we talk about our lives. And it’s always about the same people. Her boyfriend, Briar, did this but he didn’t do that and maybe he’ll do this but if he doesn’t it’s not really a huge deal unless he does the other thing. I tell her about the guy I’m seeing, Eric, unless it’s Roger, the other guy I’m seeing. Sometimes there are men in between those two guys but it always comes back to those two.

We always see people we recognize but they don’t recognize us. Sometimes people recognize us and we don’t recognize them. I realize that when you’re young, white, and dressed like an Urban Outfitters store window, people seem to blur together. “I think that boy standing over there, the one who kind of looks like Danny Masterson—

“Who’s Danny Masterson?”

“I think he’s a DJ.”

“Oh.”

“Or no, I think he’s an actor.”

“OK.”

“He might be both.”

“Oh. OK. Yeah I think I know who he is.”

“I think that guy over there who kind of looks like Danny Masterson is the first boy I ever kissed.”

“Really? What’s his name?”

“I can’t remember, but we just friended each other on facebook. I don’t think that’s him though; he looks a lot thinner in person than in his facebook photo.”

“When did you kiss him?”

“5th grade. For some inexplicable reason, or maybe it was just that kids are assholes, in 5th grade everyone decided to hate me. So during one recess, tucked away in the back corner of the volleyball courts, I played Truth Or Dare with them, not because I wanted to, but because I wanted to fit it, and they dared him to kiss me and everyone shrieked. Like who would want to kiss me? Like I was some horrible melting Nazi at the end of the Indiana Jones movie.”

“Kids are so mean.”

“I know. So he goes into kiss me, but he misses, and he kisses my hair. So the kids ask, did he kiss you? And I said, well, no. And so then they go, SHE WANTS HIM TO KISS HER AGAIN!! And you know now I look like I have a huge crush on this asshole. I didn’t really care. So he goes in for a kiss, and this time it landed, and that was my first kiss.”

“Wow.”

“He looks like a dandy. Look at his glasses. Do you think he even needs glasses? And those pants. Who died and made him Jarvis Cocker?”

“And look at his girlfriend. Straight out of an Urban Outfitters catalog. Flowered dress, oxford shoes…”

“Oh God I know, and that quirky little braid thing around her head, like Fraulein Maria or something. Jesus I hate the way people dress. I’m not even going to say hi to him.”

So we sit there and we tell each other how awful or poorly dressed everyone is and how sorry we feel for ourselves and then we decide to go to the patio for a smoke because that’s usually where the more interesting people are. We don’t smoke but I have a cigarette anyway and when I go to light it with a match everyone stares at me. It’s like they know I don’t smoke. This freaks us out and we’re ready to leave.

Before we can get out of there we have to do the awkward “Nice Guy” shuffle. This is where a “nice guy” or, guy who is not your type at all but is too polite for you to be mean to, tries to get to know more about you when you just really want to leave. One step two step red fish blue fish and we’re out the door and it’s only 11:00 because LA is an early city.

We can’t drink too much because we have to drive everywhere but we decide to stop at one more bar/lounge/clusterfuck hybrid because we feel lame for ending our evening so early. Our friend Abe boasts about some place on Fairfax or something that is so hard to get into you need to personally know the doorman, which he does. We find a place to park, which would only be a miracle if this were a Friday or Saturday night, but it’s not, it’s some odd Tuesday, so we’re not bowing down to anybody yet. There’s a line or a grouping or something happening in front of the place so we awkwardly stand there. That small grace period that you get when you arrive to a place like this where there may or may not be a line and you have to check that out has passed, so now we’re just standing there, practically tourists, two hot seconds away from taking out our cell phones so we can look like we’re calling people for a confirmation of, yes this is the right place or, yes we’ll wait for you, imaginary person, it’s going to be OK.

“You ladies want to come in?” asks the doorman. Is this a trick question? We answer yes. He asks to see our IDs. “You looked confused,” he says. Great. Now even the doorman, of some yuppie place we don’t even care to go to, can feel our inner torment. I try to offer an explanation but it trails off. I half expect to see a tumbleweed bounce by and when it doesn’t, we giggle and he opens the door for us, and we go in.

It’s packed inside and loud and getting to the bar looks like an uncomfortable scenario for just about everybody. “This is the place where you need to know the doorman?” we ask, grateful for our chance to mock Abe. “And for what?” There’s a theme going on somewhere in here but it seems confined only to the sweaty guys behind the bar in Errol Flynn mustaches.

“Let’s go,” she says.

“But we can’t,” I say. “We had that whole awkward thing with the doorman.”

“Oh, that’s right,” she says. When Larry David gave us Curb Your Enthusiasm did he ever think it would strike such a chord with two 22 year old girls? We understand it so well, the potential for awkward social interaction at every turn. I wish facebook was around when Seinfeld was on the air. Think of the episode possibilities. George trying to facebook Marisa Tomei. Elaine accidentally posting something personal as a note instead of as a private message to the guy she was seeing. Kramer starting a facebook group that turns into a real religion. And Jerry would probably be all about facebook etiquette: You just don't stay facebook buddies with your ex's friends! It's bad form! Come on!"

So we decide to stay a little longer, to appease the doorman, who is outside, and does not know or care what we are doing in here. Neither of us wants to drink as we have to drive but we look over the menu anyway to kill time. That was fun.

“Let’s pretend to wave to someone we know across the room.”

“OK.”

“Hey, Dave,” I shout, waving my arm, “Dave, over here!”

“Hey Dave!”

“Listen, Dave, are you going to Eric’s later? ERIC’S! What?”

“He’s so confused.”

“I know, right? That’s so Dave. OK DAVE, WE’LL TALK TO YOU LATER. CALL US.”

I make the “Call me” hand motion and feel like James Spader in a 90s movie. We decide to hang out for 10 more minutes and then we’re gone. We want the doorman to think we’re cool. That we could come in, but not for too long, because we have other places to be.

I went home.

Almie Rose is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. She blogs here.

"Beauty" - The Shivers (mp3)

"The Ghetto" - The Shivers (mp3)

"Roses" - The Shivers (mp3)

Friday
Nov132009

In Which We Take A Few Deep Breaths

The Second Act

by MEREDITH HIGHT

It has now been a year since I moved to Los Angeles. And I still don’t know how to drive on the freeways. A couple of weeks ago I attempted to get on the 101, hook up to the 110 and then jump on to the 10, which sounds kind of sexy and uber Angeleno when you say it all together and really fast.

When I first moved here, I would just look at the freeway veterans who would toss out these combinations in one quick breath and wonder what they were talking about. Then I would smile and nod, pretending to understand.

Admittedly, I only tried to pull this 101/110/10 thing off because I was supposed to take something to La Brea to Hollywood or something, and I got turned around and wound up seeing a sign for the 101. I thought it would make for a good alternative.

Trapped by traffic on the 110, though, I began to think I had made a terrible decision. I wasn’t sure exactly where I was and there weren’t any signs and we weren’t moving and I was panicking at the thought of having to turn around and start all over. My iPhone was telling me to take exit 38 which was just a quarter mile away, but that didn’t make any sense because I was at exit 6 and I was supposedly going the right direction.

This is the point at which I started crying. Getting lost is a metaphor for life. Where am I? How did I end up here? How do I get home? Where is home?

So I pulled off the freeway and got reoriented, only to determine that I had been going the right way the whole time. The iPhone was telling me the right thing – but since I can’t see small print and don’t understand numbers, I had mistaken 3B for 38.

I drove home cursing the traffic and congestion in Los Angeles. But the next day I went to the beach and was reminded why I live here. In the end, Los Angeles redeems itself with its proximity to the Pacific.

But all that beach time means a girl needs to keep her business all trimmed up, nearly year round. No one wants to see a burrito hanging out of that Speedo, OK. These people in California mean business about taking care of your business.

I decided to try sugaring over my usual waxing, because it’s more natural and supposed to be less painful. Also, there was a coupon on Daily Candy. I need to take advantage of any opportunity to save money here in Los Angeles, because the cost of living is unreasonable and I am going broke. Actually, I’m not even going broke anymore, I am just broke. Mostly I don’t mind, though, because the weather is so good.

I arrived at my appointment prepared for a relatively painless procedure. "So what you are going to need to do is take off your shorts and your panties and shoes," she said. "Then you can lie down."

"OK," I said. "Is there like a sheet or cover or paper panty or anything? I mean when I went in for a trim in Texas, they practically draped me in blankets." But this girl just started laughing. "How am I supposed to work on you, if you have anything on?"

I see her point but quite frankly I think she saw more of me than my own gynecologist has ever seen or will ever see. Not only that, but once she started the sugaring I began to realize this procedure was not as painless as promised.

“I don’t think I can do this!” I screamed. “This fucking hurts!”

“It’s OK!” she shouted back. “You can do this! Just hang in there!”

All of a sudden I felt like Mary Lou Retton or I don’t know, Nancy Kerrigan. I just had to do it; I had to power through.

I took a few deep breaths.

I closed my eyes and thought about the Kardashian sisters. They have dark, long, lustrous locks, and I bet they, too, have to endure near agonizing pain and torture to keep it trim down there.

"So do you have a boyfriend?” she asked.

No, I said.

“Any prospects?”

Must I constantly be reminded that I am not getting any?

Then she started trimming around the edges. Weedwacking, I suppose, is the best analogy here. But in her efforts to be thorough, well. I am pretty sure she fingered me at one point.

The sad thing about that is that is the most action I have gotten in months.

No really, it’s OK. I have a plan and his name is Adam Brody. I did a little research on the internets. He’s approximately my age, he lives in Los Angeles and he dated Rachel Bilson for three years. This leads me to believe that he likes brunettes with brown eyes, so theoretically, I have a real shot at this.

The only issue is that he is an actor, and actors need a lot of attention. I am too self-absorbed to pay that much attention to anyone other than myself. However, he is probably away on location a lot, which means I would still have plenty of time to myself.

So that could work out really well.

What?

I’m not crazy.

The truth is, even though I have been molested by the freeways and purported experts in painless lady trims, I do love living in Los Angeles.

There are moments so magical, they defy description. In fact, they are not moments; they are scenes. Like sitting on the fake lawn outside the Standard Hotel in Hollywood with a smattering of friends one night, as a slight earthquake shakes the ground beneath us. Some of us feel it, but some of us feel nothing. We continue to talk about Flannery O’Connor and dresses and Roman Polanski. Lying in the grass and laughing underneath the stars in Palm Springs at four in the morning, in front of a mansion formerly frequented by Marilyn Monroe. Going to the Farmers Market for lunch with coworkers and realizing that I was eating at the same table, sitting in the exact same place just a year ago. Yet, I was in a completely different place.

Stopping by the gourmet market for french macaroons afterwards and standing in line, somehow knowing that however magical it has been, the best is yet to come.

Meredith Hight is the senior contributor to This Recording. She tumbls here.

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"Hidaway" - Karen O and the Kids (mp3)

"Worried Shoes" - Karen O and the Kids (mp3)

"Food Is Still Hot" - Karen O and the Kids (mp3)

Friday
Sep252009

In Which It Takes A Lot Of Fires To Make A Forest

Don't They Know It's The End Of The World?

by MOLLY LAMBERT

There is a joke that Los Angeles has four seasons; Fire, Floods, Earthquakes, and Riots. (I didn't say it was funny). It is easy to feel like the world is always ending.

Because the world is always ending in Los Angeles, we are not necessarily surprised when it does. We are also not surprised when the world keeps going on after that.

How many times has the ground collapsed underneath you? How often have the forests of your hopes been razed by the flames of unforseen circumstances?

And yet after each trial and humiliation, there is the opportunity to rebuild. Even if it seems increasingly futile given that you now know it's unstable and impermanent.

But what is permanence? Is there such a thing? Even the most stable of situations might secretly be sitting on a fault line or border an accidental brush fire.

So then why do we aspire to stability, as if stability is something we can control? Why do we try to achieve what we already know is ephemeral if not impossible?

Is it because the alternative of accepting the constant destruction and restructuring of the world around us is just too existentially terrifying? We need something to cling to.

But clinging is what hurts us, what stops us from ever enjoying the present. We are too scared to let go, to accept that the earth might open up and swallow it at any time.

The alternative does not have to involve abject terror. We cling to stability because we fear the unknown, but the unknown is rarely as bad as we fear. Sometimes it is better.

And when picking through the charred remains of your former world sometimes you will stumble upon something you miss, and feel the pangs of nostalgia and saudade.

Accepting that you will sometimes feel terrible is the only way you will ever feel good.

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She tumbls here.

"Only You" - Joshua Radin (mp3)

"Someone Else's Life" - Joshua Radin (mp3)

"Sundrenched World" - Joshua Radin (mp3)