Play of the Day

This little number is very likely my new culinary sound track. It is also the play of the day.

I am a foodie (this is true) and am deeply appreciative of the so-called ‘finer-things’ in the epicurean wonderland we call Los Angeles (and, indeed, the global culinary landscape). I am also, however, ever-more appreciative in these troubled times of deliciousness on the cheap. Hence my adoration of all things “flamin’ hot.”

Think of it this way: Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Brand Cheese Puffs* are a highly efficient food: very high fat and calorie content paired with potent, technologically advanced flavor chemicals. And so very inexpensive. Economy got you down? Spice up your life with the neon red-orange, space-age goodness of some flamin’ puffs!

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*Look: I’ve gotten into this argument time and time again. Crunchy doesn’t do for you what puffy does. The puffs can be slowly dissolved in the mouth, searing their spicy brand into your already battered and weary taste buds. The crunchy version are a quick-bite solution to a slow and complex hunger-meets-capitalism-meets-culture problem. Puffs say “America: Oh yeahhhhh!” in an inviting, universally hopeful kind of way. Crunchy Cheetos just scream and point, convincing no one and alienating all but those who have already uncritically bowed to their apparent dominance.


Play of the day*

My first oil painting (ever), pictured above.

I picked it up tonight at the second in a 6-week series of still life classes. The whole thing–the painting itself, the class, the charming crowd of diverse participants–is made more magical and meditative because we meet each Monday night to paint at Barnsdall Art Park. Hello Hollyhock.

And who knows? Maybe I’m the next (less psychotic and more symmetrical) Van Gogh?

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*I feel I do not post enough plays of the days. For this, my apologies.+

+Also: I’ve noticed a maudlin trajectory in recent posts. For this I will not apologize. But I do promise more lively, amusing and generally jolly posts in the near future. ^

^But, in my defense, I’ve been listening to a lot of Father John Misty lately. Anyone with a heart would be vulnerable to maudlin prose if that band served as their writerly soundtrack.


Play of the Day

One of my two esteemed slumlords, Josh, played guitar backup tonight  at The Other Side for a lovely rendition of David Lynch’s “You and I.“*

The Other Side is a gay piano bar that is, alas, approaching its final days in Silver Lake. Unsubstantiated word on the street is that this amazing, hidden outpost of kitsch and glory will be converted into a sportsbar sometime in the next few months.

Sigh… Would that I had found it sooner. What terrible fools would turn a gay piano bar into anything other than what it so fabulously is? And where will I go when I want to hear good Beyonce covers by perfectly coiffed twinks, or just plain good looking gay men with beautiful voices, sitting and singing their hearts out behind an electronic keyboard masked as a grand piano?

Oh, sweet Other Side. I knew you for but one night and will love you forever!

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*Let it be known that, as all this went on, the Disney Channel also happened to be the station of choice on one of the television sets above the bar, and that on said channel was broadcast a young adult film written by a friend of mine. Oh Los Angeles, you are truly an enigmatic and wonderful mistress!


Play of the Day

In Berlin tonight, on our way to dinner, we made a left onto Leibnizstrausse, passed Walter Benjaminstrausse and made a right onto Kantstrausse.

Even better (though I did not wander here): Karl-Marx-Strausse intersects somewhere in this city with Hegelstrausse.

I recognize this spatial joke is selling itself to a very tiny niche market. It just happens I’m in that particular niche. Hopefully one among you, oh readers of mine, is too.*

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*Mexico City has its own version of literary and philosophical street-naming phenomena. I’ve mentioned it before. I probably will do so again.


Play of the Day

I was recently asked to be the ‘cultural consultant’ on a film set in Albuquerque. It is the pet project of an art-wardly thinking (if I may coin a term) friend of mine. I went over to said friend’s house tonight for dinner to give him notes on the script and was pleased to discover that, based on dialogue alone and some minor aesthetic directions, I could geographically locate the homes of the characters.

Landscape sticks to a person. One knows the city that is, for better or worse, one’s hometown. It’s the kind of epistemological position you can struggle against but never, entirely, escape.

Good to have confirmed that space-based knowledge travels. And good that Los Angeles can deliver to a wayward Burqueño, via the strange machinations of film-making, home.


Play of the Day

I could live on mollusks alone. Seriously. They are astoundingly delicious. And weird. The combination of these two qualities makes them a near-perfect food.

Last night I had two mollusk dishes and both were so wildly pleasing as to border on the pornographic. Thank you very much L & E Oyster Bar. On special (and first up) were smoked mussels. Served with chorizo toast, these were so delicious that I could have consumed the olive oil caper sauce they came in as a digestif. I probably would have too if I hadn’t been in the company of such classy clientele. They might frown on such behavior.

Then two-dozen outlandishly tasty raw oysters. My god. Decadence, thy name is mollusk. If there’s a better reason to jump for joy who cares?


Play of the day

I struggle with my writerly voice, dear readers. This fact, I am sure, will surprise none of you but it is an important piece of context for the play of the day.

I sent an evite today for an anti-Valentine’s day party I am throwing. This is a somewhat trite sort of soiree, I’m aware, but a good excuse for cocktails among friends should never be wasted. The play after which this post is titled is as follows: I think there are two genres I’ve mastered, the corporate memo (I was famous for them at my pre-graduate school job in journalism. All very tongue in cheek without pissing off management*) and the evite. The ‘message from host’ section of my invitation for this February gathering may be my best work yet.

If you desire the actual copy on this and are not among those in Los Angeles invited, you’ll have to e-mail me directly. It’s morbidly funny and mildly profane and thus I hesitate to post it herein. Let it be known that it involved three footnotes, a Sartre reference, and the phrase ‘heart you.’ God bless the beautiful disaster that our socio-linguistic ecology has offered us all.

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*Such memos included corporate jargon of my own invention and, at least in one case, bear trainers at the then-visiting circus.


Play of the day

It has been ridiculously beautiful in Los Angeles lately. New Year’s day was sunny and warm. Excluding a few colder days since, it feels suspiciously like spring. This, I suppose, is not the ideal winter for our specific ecology but it does make for glorious weekend walks along the Silverlake Reservoir and outdoor drinking at The Red Lion.

Luckily the warm weather has not hindered the phenomenon known as the ‘winter halo.’ The play of the day is simply this: I looked up at an enormous moon as I drove home around 6:30 today, and by 1 a.m. it was hugged by a perfect circle of something like clouds. It looked like this during the lunar eclipse about a month ago as well.

The sunsets in New Mexico are unbeatable. Nuclear, really, if you follow Delillo. I’d say though, given our temperate climate, the moon in Los Angeles has a spectacular and awesome quality that belongs very much to the city. And when that moon is full, good things happen. Terrible things happen. Magical things happen. It is one among many reasons that this city is livable, whole. Sprawling though it may be, we still have a relationship with the much larger universe. The sky is a serious thing here, light pollution and all.

Look up. You won’t be sorry you did.


Play of the day

Oh dearest readers (dwindling in number though you may be, just as the time I have remaining in this fine city), I have for you a set of photos from both outside and within my favorite building in Buenos Aires. It is an old Art Nouveau structure on Avenida Rivadavia. A friend of mine used to work on the second floor and offered me a little tour yesterday before he gives up his keys to the joint for good.

He claims the place is haunted (not to worry, he also says the ghosts are quite friendly). Ghost stories abound in this city. Myths and legends of all sorts, really. And you can see why in buildings like this. These incredible structures, built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century (often, as with this office, modeled after the European architecture that was popular at the time) are more concentrated in San Telmo, Recoleta and Barrio Norte, but they pepper the streets of all the central neighborhoods. This building is in Congreso, just a few blocks down from the plaza.

These buildings are set apart from their European counterparts both by their relative disrepair–with a series of political and economic crises following their construction many suffered stretches with no one to care for them–and by their context within the surrounding architecture. Often they sit next to brutal, barren high rises, or share walls with cheaply-constructed apartment buildings.

They have been among my favorite things the city offers to those who traverse it. Little sparkling treasures that pop up in the oddest of places to stop you in your pedestrian tracks.

If I were a ghost, I’d haunt these places too.


Play of the day

Last night I enjoyed a very typical Saturday night here in the city of the good winds. Typical, I say, because in true porteño fashion the festivities did not commence until I sat down with a few friends for a late dinner (I ate around midnight) and didn’t end until this morning (at around 5 a.m.). Also typical in that I drank too much Malbec, hence my Sunday resaca. My hangover, thankfully, was mitigated this afternoon by the arrival of two fantastic American companions and the delicious pizza we shared at the famous local joint, El Cuartito.

But back to business: The play of the day is really the mishap of yesterday. My long and alcohol-fueled night was spent at a bar in Palermo called Caracas. There’s a terrace upstairs and a DJ spins dance music while lovely waitstaff serve up delicious Venezuelan treats. The place was packed and a comrade of mine and I whiled away the hours betting on where the folks crowded around, downing cocktails and bobbing heads, hailed from. We’d pick a target, make our guesses, and then introduce ourselves to verify. There were a few hits and a few misses. A guy we were sure was from California turned out to be from Venezuela. We correctly pegged a crowd of Colombians. The very tall, blond American celebrating her birthday was a dead give-away.

One great miss: I spotted what was sure to be a gringo hipster. He was too tall to be a local. The guy also had a mustache and was sporting a hoodie. My guess was Los Angeles and, were I truly a risk-taker, I might have ventured that he shared a flat with his performance-artist girlfriend in Echo Park. But, lo, how wrong I was. We approached and, as it turned out, he was Canadian! A beautiful, tall, Canadian hipster! This fine northern gentlemen even informed me that he’s working on his Great Canadian Novel!! A bildungsroman, no less. Obviously, I swooned. All I’ve ever wanted in life, after all, is a creative type with facial hair who’s citizenship gives him access to socialized medical care. Sure that I’d found, at long last, the love of my life,* I commenced flirtation. I sharpened my wit. I batted my eyes. I even tried a little trick a friend taught me of laughing ever-so-merrily as you place a hand on the fellow’s arm and lean your face into his neck.

It just might have worked, too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids! And when I say kids here, I mean it. Just when I was ready to move in for the proverbial kill my fair northerner and I happened to be discussing stage-of-life matters and (oh woe is my fate) he let slip his age. As it turns out I spent an hour flirting with a teenager, ladies and gentlemen. Nineteen. The man cannot buy me a drink in my own country, with or without his ironic mustache.

That, readers, was my clear cue to gracefully exit the situation. I did, clutching my glass of wine and what was left of my dignity with my wrinkled 30-year-old hands. As I made my departure the weight of a great nostalgia for the long lost days of my youth settled heavily upon my shoulders. Sigh…

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*As those of you who follow this blog already know, the real love of my life is a nameless Argentine repair man. But as the cruel hands of fate plucked him from his proper place in my destiny I am now forced to search for other, lesser loves. Such is the nature of my itinerant life.