Sunday, February 13, 2005
Sunday morning in L.A. The sun, the trees, the gospel music on the radio, the smell of fresh brewed coffee, the multitudes walking around in flip flops and sweat shirts. The deliberate pace that belies the city's reputation for being "too fast-paced." That doesn't apply today. Not on this Sunday morning in L.A.
Even with all that's going on this weekend; it's calm and peaceful right now. On Sunday morning. Every other day, things get so crazy and living life is hard to do*. But today, with the right breeze, you can see forever in those mountains. You can see past the smog and the traffic and the pretentiousness that permeates the Southland. You can see past the Governator and the LAPD and the airport. You can see yourself living here on a Sunday morning.
Your fingers can trace every outline of the scenery: the sidewalk cafes, the star sightings, the Jamba Juices on every corner. You can window shop on Melrose and imagine there being an actual Fresh Prince in Bel Air. You can drive past the movie and television studios and wonder which show is being shot, which dream is coming true at that very moment. You can anticipate the very best in music being inches away from you, being rewarded for doing what they do best. You can let your mind wander to all of those things. It's Sunday morning in L.A.
You can paint a picture of success with your hands out here. The sun has that affect on you. The momentary rain, while a burden for East Coast dwellers, is just that...temporary. You can hear the little orphan bellowing out her famous words, knowing that she speaketh the truth, that the sun will come out tomorrow. Maybe even later today. Here you can change the weather and be together when it ends. That's the way it is here...on a Sunday morning.
No worries about work, about sitting in bumper to bumper gridlock traffic, no concerns about hurrying to eat breakfast or to walk the dog or to get the kids dressed. You can go pick up some groceries, take your time. Drive slow on a Sunday morning to Venice Beach and get some inline skating in while the sun is bright. Drive slow to San Diego and take a cruise to Catalina Island. Drive slow to Tiajuana and spend the day not drinking the water. Take a long slow drive up the coast until you get tired and head on back. Steal a day from work and drive slow to Vegas for some good gambling and old fashioned debauchery. The snow is only an hour away.
Those are your options on a Sunday morning.
There's always Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles, conveniently located at different posts throughout the city. So many restaurants to prep for later in the day. Santa Monica will give you the scenery you crave as you shop on the promenade. A matinee with family and friends can be enjoyed at The Grove. Get your lashes curled on La Cienega. Pedicure on Pico. Manicure on Melrose. Oil changed on Olympic. Buy veggies in the Valley. See the stars' homes. The Hollywood Walk of Fame. Brunch that lasts til after 4.
Welcome to L.A., baby!
It's a place to come and visit. A place to come and rest your bones. A place to sway like branches in the storm. A place to lay on beaches in the morn. It's the time where I feel at rest, at peace with myself and with the world.
Someday, L.A., because of these Sunday mornings, because of the way they make me feel like I never want to leave...these Sunday mornings may just lead me back to you. Someday it may just lead me back to you...
*Maroon 5, thanks for the inspiration...
It's 2:30am and I've been running hard all day. The brunch was from 10am to 2pm at the Beverly Hilton, and since I was volunteering, I couldn't take the photos I wanted to. But rest assured, it was a great event. Overbooked, in fact. Standing room only for real.
The details will be shared when I get back to New York and my friend Dana is able to supply me with the appropriate photos to share. Fa shizzle!
After the brunch, I headed over to Quality on 3rd Street with my friend Rebecca for some good food and some more people watching. Becky is doing some things. She's working part time at a law firm, going to school at night, in the middle of an internship at CitySearch. Today, she came and got me after working the graveyard shift Friday and before she had to head back in for a 5-9 shift. If tired could talk, Becky would be its spokesperson.
I'm always amazed at how scrawny celebrities look in person, how much they differ from their screen auras. I mean, everybody knows by now how short Taye Diggs and Morris Chestnut are; how bad Vanessa Williams' skin is; how pale most caucasian actors are in the sunlight. And then there's Gin.a Gers.hon, whom we spotted walking down 3rd Street this afternoon. Alone. She is, how can I say this gently...A STICK FIGURE!!! The same lady I had a crush on in Showgirls and the short-lived TV show Snoops...is about a thin as Snoop Dogg!!! LOL It was amazing and horrifying to see at the same time. Talk about crushing a dream...Yeesh! It was bad.
Anyways, after Quality (the food was good, by the way...they only served breakfast and lunc there. At 4pm, the whole damn place shut down for the day. Which leaves the employees time to go to the beach and actually enjoy their Saturdays...nice.), Becky decided to drive down Melrose Avenue and look at all the stuff she can't afford. We cruised past all the designer stores with the huge prices in the windows. Rode past a barber shop called Rudy's (obviously Notre Dame Rudy and NOT Fat Albert Rudy) while listening to an independent FM radio station that...*ahem* was playing a FOLK VERSION of Cameo's WORD UP!!! That is not a misprint. At first we weren't listening closely as the conversation was flowing, but after a while, we just stopped and had to listen. This song had accordians playing at one point. I damn near lost my lunch. Only in LA, folks. Only in LA.
It was around 4:30 when Becky dropped me off back at my niece's house. I picked up my car and headed over to meet Tee and Mia to see the movie Hitch. Funny, funny movie. All the stuff I said after I, Robot about Will Smith not being able to carry a movie? Take it back. My namesake did his thing in this one. I will be doing a review of it on Monday. Good film, though.
After the movie, we headed to the Grove for some Italian. The pizza was great! (Can you tell I love LA? lol) Just watching the people was enough for me. We sat diagonal from the movie theater at an outside eatery called La Piazza. Directly across from us was a broke ass version of the fountain at the Hotel Bellagio in Las Vegas. They had the dancing water, the lights, the piped in classic music (we even heard Dean Martin belt out the cult hit That's Amore!, which was appropriate with Valentine's Day just two days away)...it was just a scaled down version. But nice nonetheless.
The Grove is a part of the Farmer's Market, on the corner of 3rd and Fairfax. So many stores, 599 levels of parking in the garage (I swear, one more level and me and St. Peter woulda been slapping five), places to get dressed up to eat and places to just go hang out. There were so many people out this night soaking in the nice weather and just glad it wasn't raining. My friend Kim said she brought the rain with her from Nashville. Hmmm...it didn't rain today. And I didn't see Kim today. Coincidence? Maybe. LOL
After Italian food, the three of us headed over to Lola's, the martini bar in West Hollywood. We stepped into the spot and it was packed. All sorts hang out in West Hollywood. And all sorts descended on Lola's tonight. LOL The place was buzzing. At the front bar, you had to push your way past the three deep line to get a martini. Once you got past the first rush, you were in the room with the pool table, which had some tables to the side. The crowd was mixed and having a good time. Past the pool room was the back area, which holds another bar and about 10 tables. At the long ass table near the entrance to the back, there was a birthday party underway. Hmmm...it was West Hollywood, a birthday party and all the people at the table were women. Some didn't exactly look like women, but they were. In fact, the birthday girl looked like she coulda been my little brother. She looked rough. As she sat making out with her girlfriend, the rest of the couples at the table did the same. I looked around for cameras, sensing that they must've been shooting scenes for The L Word. It damn sure was Showtime up in dat piece.
Tee's friend Octavia met us at the bar. Her birthday was today as well (along with Kim and manly girl). HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU ALL!!! Her and her friend had just come back from Long Beach where they saw Wayman Tisdale, Jeffrey Osbourne and Mike Phillips perform. They enjoyed it. At this point I'm getting sleepy. It's been a long day, what after the brunch, lunch with Becky, the movie, dinner and now the bar. Kim pages me at 1:30 saying that she and her crew are headed to Chocolate Bar on Melrose.
Ummm...no thanks. I'm good. Tomorrow will be a long day as well, with the Grammys and the after parties on my plate. I'm tired.
And you know...the more I'm out here, the more I'm thinking about coming back for good. Sigh. Happy Birthday, Kim. Hope you enjoyed your day...since I didn't get to see you. LOL
Saturday, February 12, 2005
Posted 7:01am PST...
Ok, I've been out here exactly eleven hours and last night when I landed, it was pouring rain. I guess I should feel good that I came out here when I did. December's mud slides and torrential rains have more than likely made the Angelinos more rainy-weather savvy. It hasn't been that bad.
We sat on the runway for over an hour last night due to a confusion with planes at the wrong gates.
I will let that one go for now. I mean, at least we landed safely and all was good. I finally got my luggage and met up with my friend Kimberly, who met me here for the weekend from Nashville, TN. It's her birthday weekend so we're gonna hang out with my friends Tee and Mia and crash every possible party.
Today is the Artist Empowerment Coalition brunch. Click here to see what the AEC does. If you click on the first photo in the past events section, you will see your boy standing behind AEC President Londell McMillan, Prince and Smokie Norful. I MADE THE CUT!!! LOL
This year, the AEC is honoring recording artist Kanye West, model Tyra Banks and actor Danny Glover. Nothing will beat last year's experience of meeting Mary Mary, Mary J. Blige, Chaka Khan, JILL SCOTT, Nas, Glover, Queen Latifah, Prince, Norful and Angie Stone. Just a great event. And it inspired my future tome (yes, an entire book!) detailing my five minute conversation with Scott. Good times.
We shall see how this year's event unfolds. Respect to Londell's assistant Dana for the hook up! Love ya, girl.
I'm staying at my niece's house while I'm out here. She lives in an area called Beverlywood and I love it here. There are palm trees lining each side of the street, every house has a front lawn and a backyard, the houses are all one-story dwellings and the insides are mostly hardwood. It's just a great place to live and raise kids. There are schools within two blocks of my niece on both sides; the main thoroughfare is a block away (La Cienega Blvd.), the airport is ten minutes away, and EVERYTHING is less than twenty minutes away by car. I swear, every time I come out to visit her, it makes me think longer and harder about coming out here to stay. This trip is no different. I have until October (when my current lease in Harlem is up) to make a decision. I may come back out in July to do some further investigation.
Kim is going out with a friend of hers for a birthday meal and Tee and Mia (newlyweds) will be out running errands. And after the crappy weather last night (you try navigating around Los Angeles at night in the rain...not good times at all!), the sun is out today!!! *crossing my fingers that it stays out...damn you, Tony! Toni! Tone! I wanna sue your asses...lol*
I'm about to get dressed and head over to the brunch. Details to follow, of course.
Ahhhh, L.A. The City of Angels. And damn rain clouds. Sigh.
Friday, February 11, 2005
Posted 8:52pm PST...
I've never been one to believe in the statement that "everything happens for a reason"; that there are no coincidences in life, that everything means something. Blah on that. I mean, you're telling me that COP ROCK happened for a reason?!?!? Ben Affleck becoming a star is more than mere coincidence?!?!?
I'm not buying that. At all.
So I've lived my entire life not subscribing to the fact that everything means something...except when I board an airplane. Then, like no other time, I get the feeling that the person I sit next to was put there for a reason--to teach me a lesson, to be a source of conversation, to annoy me to the point that my family looks great by comparison--there's always something I take away from the experience.
Like the time I was on the flight with the teenaged girl who was flying for the first time. She was nervous and cool at the same time, explaining to me that her grandmother would be waiting for her when we landed in Atlanta; how she appreciated me keeping her company while we flew and asking if I wanted some gum or to listen to her CDs when she was done; her asking me to pray with her and to hold her hand when we were about to touch down.
Or when I met an elderly couple on the way to Cleveland that wintry day a few years back, fresh off their wonderful trip to New York for shopping. Turns out they were heavily involved in the local Urban League and we had some mutual acquaintances. They gave me their address and we kept in touch for over a year, exchanging holiday cards and them shouting me out for my birthday.
Then there was the time I was on a flight back from Atlanta, sitting next to a fidgety young white boy who was travelling to New York for school, this being the first time he left his family for an extended period of time. He was nervous, kept asking me questions about the city, how to get around on the subway, and the best places to eat near Columbia University. I was happy to oblige, giving details of what he should expect, what to look out for, what to do. Being the detail-heavy writer that I am, I left him feeling assured that he was well-equipped for the road ahead, for the city that never sleeps, for the adventure of a lifetime.
That...was the day before 9/11. And to this day, I think back to that plane ride, and that young man, and wonder how fidgety he was after that experience, after the day that changed the world. I wonder if he went back home soon after; if he stayed and got his education. On a day that changed the playing field, brushed back even the most seasoned of New Yorkers, I often wonder if that kid took that high and tight pitch and stayed at the plate. Seriously, I wouldn't blame him if he didn't.
Those are just some of the experiences that popped into my head tonight as our plane sat on the runway for over an hour waiting to be towed into our gate. Those are some of the thoughts that danced around as a rare Los Angeles rain danced on the wings of the jumbo liner.
I think back on those conversations, those random people who were brought into my life for a reason...if nothing else than to let me know them. It's that wide cross section that makes everything seem reasonable, not so coincidental. Makes me want to be a part of their stories, to wonder how big a role I played in helping their stories progress.
I have no such story for this flight, unfortunately. The dude sitting next to me was way past needing my help. His constant fits and starts, tosses and turns, snorts and coughs made me believe that he needed the help of a professional. My synopsis was confirmed when, in an effort to get comfortable...he sat on the floor. Of the airplane. At 26,000 feet. I.couldn't.make.this.up. Sigh.
Those are just some of the things that kind of make me believe in that statement, that everything happens for a reason, at least for a second. At least until I land, when my feet are back underneath me, when I remember that everything cannot be explained, like Ashanti's singing career and Lil Kim's face.
Then, I realize that I was right in my assumptions. That something must be in the air, that the cabin pressure must play a big part in those scenarios, those times when myself and the people next to me are on a higher plane.
Note: Look out for my posts throughout the weekend. This has the makings of a wild weekend in L.A. We shall see...