August 25, 2010

Things that aren’t here anymore…

As time passes, my list of things that aren’t here anymore grows exponentially. Recently I visited an old friend in Beverly Hills. We toured downtown and relished remembering the things that weren’t here anymore. Baillie’s, Walters, Amelia Gray, Carl's Market, Harrgatay's, CafĂ© Swiss, The Saloon, Dan's Snip-n-Curl barber shop, Dorso, Mr. Guy, Eric Ross, Jurgensen's, La Chaumiere, La Bella Fontana, The Bistro, et al., all gone baby, gone. Edelweiss Chocolates was still here.

I ask the current owner, if the old chocolate factory is still at the back of the shop. She said yes, and would we like to come and see. We did.

A tidbit, Lucille Ball a faithful Edelweiss Chocolates customer actually used the chocolate conveyor belt that’s part of the Edelweiss’ factory as the inspiration for an “I Love Lucy” episode and I’m sure you know which one.

We enjoyed that, but it made me feel one hundred years old. Time to go. As we drove home, we passed one of my favorite “memorial sites”. 1021 North Roxbury Drive.

The house where George Gershwin and his brother Ira wrote some of the most important American songs ever composed and where Rosemary Clooney lived for over five decades was reduced to a pile of rubble.

The City's action, taken without public hearing, or any notification to community members who had launched a campaign of letters and pleas to the Beverly Hills Mayor and the Beverly Hills City Council, cleared the way for another “Persian Palace”.

It was here that George came bounding down the stairs of the living room to the piano saying jubilantly, "Hey Ira, it can't be A Foggy Day in London. It's got to be "A Foggy Day in London Town!" The house became a social center for Hollywood's (and New York's) most creative forces of the 1930's - including Moss Hart, Lillian Hellman, Harold Arlen, and Oscar Levant.

The Gershwin-Clooney house was one of the last remaining historic houses on the legendary street of North Roxbury Drive that once boasted the likes of Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, and Jimmy Stewart. Nick Clooney, brother of Rosemary, remembered, "I once sat on the floor leaning against the back of a chair where Bing Crosby was sitting as he sang White Christmas for an audience of seven."

Gary Shea’s road case in the pool house

Los Angeles has a transcendent feeling even amidst the pace that has kept it on the cutting edge of trend. There is a tenuous tie to the past. While so many of the legendary people are gone, the houses that remain can still bring back memories and inspire fantasies.

But with no preservation ordinance to protect its history, the cultural and historic legacies are left to the whims of homebuyers with cash. These historic houses are razed with the ease of dismantling yesterday's movie set. They don't have granite kitchens or a marble entries, but they have soul and history. There is no Take Two. No digital fix. When it's dead, it really is dead. Gone. Next.

August 20, 2010

Starry, Starry Nights.

This weekend I will be in Texas to sign-off  on the last project of 'twentyten'.

After the meeting I will visit a local *curandero/yerbero to collect herbal remedies that will alleviate the symptoms of an old ailment. There is a continuous tradition by the shamans to facilitate visionary states of consciousness.

Ergo, comes night, Sylvia and I will sit with the caballos and admire the stars in the **night sky …
photo by kind permission of Dr. Tyler Nordgren
…instantaneous remission.
*Curanderismo is the art of folk healing by a curandero, the healer par excellence in the folk medicine practiced by Texas Hispanics. Healers can be either male or female and may even specialize in their practice. The three most common types of curanderos are the yerbero (herbalist), the partera (midwife), and the sobador (masseur).

**The night sky has fascinated man for decades. Ancient peoples attached beliefs and myths to figures they saw in the stars. Early voyagers navigated using the night sky as if it were a map, some sailors still today, can.


August 17, 2010

Different, devoutly to be wished.

In the middle of June, I read in the Los Angeles Times of the death of a friend, Robert Shapazian. We had not seen each other for a long time.

I met Robert in Venice. Like all interesting encounters, we met by accident. Robert was, as was my father, of the old school—hence the initial attraction. We shared a wry sense of humor. He often smiled at his own petulant lamentations, like a naughty boy pleased with getting away with something. His views were enthusiastically unorthodox; different devoutly to be wished. Robert’s association with Lapis Press, a Venice-based book publishing company, allowed him to be part of creating publications that ”transcended the Superstore notion” of what constituted a book. Books that had an “unusual degree of presence, for people who were both textually and visually aware and literate". During his time as the director of the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills, I deduced from our conversations, that the politics and the responsibilities of a director were in opposition to his own beliefs.

We also shared being “born to the soil”. Born on land that produced the income that allowed us to be free to explore, to travel and study beyond its borders. Alas, no matter how far you may travel; your early way of life leaves its mark. The first sentence Robert ever spoke to me, we were both standing in front of  Florian's, watching the rain, “I can wake up one morning in Paris, and, half-asleep, thinking of the crop, tell myself, ‘My God, it’s raining, what are we going to do?’”.

In infinite gratitude for shining a light.

August 03, 2010

Happy Birthday (again)

We are still an ocean apart, therefore, another birthday post.

I know, NO tearjerker-

-also no picnic on the beach, late night dip in the Pacific, and hike home at the wee hours.

Oh, in case you forgot, I am your godmother (for those of you still chafing at the appointment of this non-Catholic godmother, be still!) and I fully intend to give you wise, unsolicited, and mortifying advice for the rest of your life. Yes, the kind of advice that will result in a superb eulogy at my funeral.

I had promised your mother that I would not talk to you about sex until you ask, though, having known your parents, I suspect that anything I would tell you would be old news and I think that the past two years have been more like, 9 1/2 weeks, huh? What better time to continue with my promise than right here, right now? Follow these simple guidelines and you, me, and the world shall get along just fine.

  • Driving drunk is dumb
  • unprotected sex is dumber
  • treat others as you would like to be treated and…
…you will live to be 25.

For everything else, do not worry, you will pick it up as you go along. Though you can come to me for advice, just do not ask me about women (I am clueless on that subject).

Happy Birthday Clive…