To your growing list of iffy things not to offer the public, here's yet another. Bright young student-type fellow brimming with charisma, chatting merrily away with female pals on a crowded bus down Sunset Blvd, all of them standing before seated me, the fellow glibly confessing, “I’m scared of balloons!” ... I stifled a bus-rattling laugh. Balloons??? Fellow’s two friends, amused by the audience in me, pointed scaredy-cat in my direction, and he proceeded to entertain me with more of the same: Remember, we’re are in Audition City:
“Yes, when I see a balloon, I get anxious!”
“You’re kidding” That’s me egging him on. “You’re afraid of the popping sound?”
“Oh, no, everything – even if a person just holds one up to their lips, or if I see some balloons in a store, it’s scary!”
My turn. I told him I get creeped out in small elevators.
He ran with it: “Oh, inside elevators, I love jumping up and down!”
Actors imrpov in transit? I should have raised my camera. Perfect opening for my three-day sprint through the city of angels and angles.
That evening, over a boffo burger at Fred 62 on Vermont in Los Feliz, I found fresh whimsy in kids around a table reveling in group selfies. When they noticed my camera rising to snatch a snap, they went into full performance mode. “Do you want us to look at you?” shouted one of them “No, don’t look at me!” And there they are. Such giddy delights. Wonder how many of them want to be in pictures.
Where the sun once met the grill: Next morning, I had planned to share the sunshine with a stool at my favorite outdoor grill, somewhere on Vine a little south of Hollywood Blvd, a place that’s been there since 1929. A place that felt half-constructed, like a carny joint on a midway. How I loved – Well, here, quoting shamelessly from my book, is the set up:
“You sit there on a tall sidewalk stool in the warm easy calm with other dreamers. And you might feel, once more, like you have just arrived.”
I wanted to just arrive again, but my stool did not. I ran into high rise construction, or had I got the location wrong? I approached a member of the building crew, hoping he could speak English. Was this not where a stand had been? Bingo! He spoke fluently, answering “Yes,” ready to commiserate with my shock. “I went there many times. The owner did not want to sell.”
Okay, so how else can you stand me, up, LA? I pushed on through withering heat to my next scheduled enchantment, to check out The Broad, the city’s new contemporary art museum, just across the street from America’s greatest piece of architecture, the Disney Concert Hall. Built by philanthropists Eli and Edyth Broad, so, what do you see — Sees Candy Paris? I see an Andy Warhol stack of white wafers inflating. Tell that scared student up there to avoid Grand Avenue.
What I respect the most about Eli Broad — the town’s art-loving sugar daddy — is that he is not trying here to compete with Disney, which he also helped fund. The Disney floats like steel clouds. The Broad hunkers down low in cool virginal white.
But no room in its galleries for me. People in a long line with tickets, waiting, and I learn it’s best to book in advance. Always free, just like the Getty out in Brentwood. Who said this town hasn’t a heart?
Some pics while killing time under too much sun, walking here, there, no where.
The Disney, of course
At La Brea and Santa Monica
To Raleigh Studios for the private screening of ... Drum rolls!
To get there, I’m walking down Melrose, hoping to see Norma Desmond drive by in her big old overdone auto. Approaching Raleigh, I thread my way through an audition-happy stream of costumed characters, above, just out of a tapping of Let’s Make a Deal — a show that began 48 seasons ago and was revived in 2009.
Catcher Juan, Miguel's brother, is there, too. Heck of a nice guy. It’s good to see them both together. Lights are popping off. News of the World (oops! Make that TMZ) filming our meeting? Never so much flash bulb attention. Hey LA, nobody does it like you do!
Between Miguel, left, and Juan
Visit goes great. Film goes great. Since I am in it, it would be wrong to formally review, and I wuold never do that. Can say this, there are loads of goodies in it to enjoy. But that’s for another time, once the film is released in January, out in Vegas. In the meantime, Phil is lining up film festivals, biggest so far being one in the Twin Cities, where Miguel is slated to give a master class to top students at the city’s major trapeze school.
Comes and goes so fast. Next morning, before catching Amtrak for my return, I’m at Philippes restaurant mourning the death of the Los Angeles Times, a sad and embarrassing skeleton of its Pulitzer-rich glory days. Book reviews? Only five or six. Can’t believe it. I used to read it every Sunday morning, big event, until it was no longer sold in the Bay Area.
Eli Broad is said to be trying to buy it away from its parent, Chicago-based Tribune Publishing; that itself, windy city ownership, marking one of the most humiliating episodes in L.A. history. If Sir Eli has his way, let them nickname it the LA Broad Sheet. Wrap the old Times building in white chiffon wafers. But hold the balloons.
Bye for now, L.A. Phil and Miguel – and the student suffering from inflate-a-phobia – thanks for the memories!