I landed at LAX on Wednesday night around 10 pm. Nikki and I decided I wouldn't rent a car after all on a phone call while I was in San Jose (the most boringest town in America. Other places I've been that were boring got saved by at least a sprinkle of charm.) So, she was waiting for me in baggage claim looking really pretty and relaxed with her bouncy brown hair hanging long on her back. We grabbed my bag and hopped in her car and screamed and laughed and then promptly got lost leaving the airport. N said, "oh no! we're in South Central!" but luckily I had my magical gps tracker on my phone and eventually we made it to a 50s style IHOP where I had a buttery patty melt with onion rings. N had planned to take me on a culinary tour of los angeles and apologized that my first meal was at a national chain but i reassured her that IHOP is one of my favorite places on the planet and that I'd be craving that familiar trough of four flavored syrups for ages which was true. I'd already had my signature harvest grain 'n nut combo at an IHOP in Dallas with my mom last weekend but the beauty of IHOP is that it never loses its charm no matter how many times you visit. I used to stop at the IHOP in Waco almost every time I made a late night drive from Austin to Dallas or vice versa my first year of college. I also spent a lot of time there "doing homework" with Tana and my freshman year roommates. O Nostalgia!
So then we went back to her place in Highland Park where her two new kittens welcomed us with a fresh present in the litter box. Those little scamps! The next morning, N's first student of the day called in a raincheck so she was free to take me to breakfast at this place called Auntie Em's where I ordered the Bacon Lettuce Avocado Sprouts Tomato (b.l.a.s.t.--hence, the clever title of this post) on a delish focaccia. Our waiter was one of the guys from White Lion (Lion Mountain?) or some such band that was featured in L.A. Record that week. He's cute but not the brightest diamond. N asked him to join the bill she was putting together for one of the lit mags at Cal ARTS. After we ate, N dropped me off at the train and I participated in L.A.'s mass transit for the first time and I braved big scary downtown all by myself. I got off at union station and perused Olvera Street first (where I very nearly bought a tiny guitar for $9.95, then some crazy mexican candies like this coconut tamarindo tostada looking thing, and a tee shirt with a couple of dia day los muertos senorita skeletons that said "cheesmosas para siempre"). Next stop for this tourist was the Chinese-American museum (snore) then this old hotel that is now an Italian museum (bigger snore) then I walked across the Santa Ana Fwy (a.k.a 101 -- N tells me that everything in l.a. is referred to by the numbers) down across the Los Angeles Mall where a bunch of homeless people were hanging out. One of the dudes shouted: "cute dress!" which is probs one of the nicest catcalls I've gotten. Or, I thought, maybe I'm just getting old and not sexually desirable any more (see the time four years ago when a guy shouted at me "I love Chinese food!") but then later in the day I was told multiple times: "nice legs!" which I still prefer over "hey baby."
While perusing the local weekly paper, I discovered that every first Thursday in L.A. they do this downtown art walk thing where you can take a look at a bunch of the galleries. The paper mentioned the website address but not the route of the walk and my phone wasn't showing the map online correctly (thanks a lot modern age and the death of print media!). So, I walked over to the MOCA Geffen and asked them if they were a part of the art walk. The two at the front desk said that they were participating but weren't open for free until after 5pm which they were every Thursday (so I didn't really see how they were participating) and they didn't even have a map of the route. They were, however, able to point me in the right direction to get started about 6 blocks away and then told me if I didn't want to walk that there was a shuttle. I didn't really understand why I would want to take a shuttle on a walk but whatever. I walked through the Japanese Village Plaza in Little Tokyo and browsed the gift shops which were pretty different from the junk you can get in New York's Chinatown and made me wonder if New York also has a hood to buy Japanese shit. N has a really cool curtain in her doorway to the kitchen that she said was called a Nori ...although I thought that was the word for seaweed. I picked up a milk tea boba (bubble) and then continued on my journey over 3rd street into the Toy District where I passed literally 8 headshop wholesalers (8!!!) and one store that stocked exclusively teddy bears. I found this combo to be very hilarious. And, there was a store that only sold neon signs. One of the signs said "tacos" and had an image of a blinking taco. I really wanted to buy it.
The art walk was pretty meh. I liked the first place I went to first. Then I jumped on the train to be back at N's by 7:30 when she said she'd be home so we could go to dinner with the homos who live next door to her. She took us to this Armenian place where I ordered giant falafel.
Friday, we went to Larkin's in Eagle Rock with Paul, one of the 'mos from the night before where I tried to get something healthy and still ended up with fried chicken all over my salad. savory crunchy fried chicken. We shared a couple of enormous mac and cheese balls made with three cheeses. I need to devise the recipe so I can attempt to replicate in my fry daddy (note to self: get a new cord for your fry daddy). And then we shared a heavenly cinnamony slice of pumpkin pie. I love autumn! I love everything pumpkin flavored! I love L.A.! Then N took me to Santa Monica where we rode the Ferris wheel, played some skee ball, played around in the photo booth (Nikki, please send me a scan of those pics sooooon!), walked along the beach, inspected the mussels growing underneath the boardwalk, got some ice cream (this is a recurring theme in my trip), and laughed and laughed and laughed. My friend from high school Alison who is now living in Cyprus Hill invited us to a pre-Thanksgiving potluck dinner party she was hosting serendipitously that evening so me and N headed back to her house to make some food and get showered. P lent us a box of couscous came with us. The party was full of artists and yummy foods, but I was dumb and ate my left over falafel before we went to the party so I wasn't hungry enough to sample what everyone had brought. And, while I was waiting in line, this guy named Gordon "cutsied" in front of me and started making me nervous. A says he's the biggest womanizer she's ever met. N said she saw him corner every single girl at the party and that I was being a trooper by talking to him for as long as I did. I was just trying to be nice, until he got right up into my ear and I had to walk away from him. Coincidentally, N and P had just met Gordon and Al right before I got to L.A. at some art thing that Gordon did at another gallery called Scene Space. A had some juicy goss about this other girl we knew in high school, Ashley, who had taken me to my first straight edge christian punk rock show. well, now that I think about it, that was probably the only straight edge christian punk rock show I've attended. Apparently, Alison tried to reconnect with Ashley when she was in Dallas a few years ago and Ashley seemed reluctant which slightly peeved Alison. but then when Alison met up with Ashley she realized that the reluctance was due to Ashley just having had a nose and boob job that same weekend.
N then took me to a house party in Echo Park that was kind of scary to drive to. It was a pretty typical party that you'd see in Austin or Brooklyn where a few bands were playing electric guitars in the dark and everyone was drinking a 40. The difference was that the party was in a beautiful four story house with spiral staircases and floor to ceiling windows at the top of a hill with a view of the whole glittering city. We were there because Miko Miko were going to play but they weren't playing yet so we just wandered around the house and were sad that the kids that lived there had trashed the place. One of the guys who lived there whose name I can't remember told us that an eccentric architect had built it and abandoned it and that only two people were supposed to be living there but that 7 or 8 people actually lived there. We were in his bedroom which was originally the dining room sitting on his hard ass bed when he told us that it used to be basically a crack den and that people just came there to do drugs but that now it was mostly just drinking that happened there. we told him that we thought the house was beautiful and that he had great windows in his room and that it was a shame that he had covered them with foil and heavy camo curtains. He said that in the morning his room was like heaven when the whole room fills with light. He added that he believed something had died underneath his room or in the wall and it smelled really strongly. That was when we left. The guy chased N when we walked out of the house to get her contact information. (This is the second winner we met in one night...something makes me think my love life wouldn't really improve too much if I lived in L.A. after all.)
Saturday, we grabbed a coffee and a pastry at a cafe near N and P's houses and jumped on the train to meet P's boyfriend Daniel and ride to the protest to the passing of Prop 8 happening in the plaza in front of city hall. Ricky Lake was there! I cried when one of the speakers talked about how her parents were lesbians but were parents first. Then there was an announcement that there was a lost 12 year old boy named Ivan Diaz at the event who with long dark hair was wearing a blue and white striped shirt, khaki shorts, and was...deaf and mute. We were sad at first but then started laughing because this description very neatly fit Paul. Then, even later, I realized how hilarious and sad it is to have a gay pep rally to talk about what great parents gays make while interspersing announcements about a lost child. We marched around the square, then we met up with three more gays for lunch in Chinatown at a Vietnamese/Thai place called Viet Cafe. Service was awful and the food wasn't anything to write home about, but the company was enjoyable. We laughed and laughed. N felt bad that we had veered so far from the culinary adventure she had planned (she wanted us to go to Phillips but it was too crowded) but we all agreed that my vacation was going pretty well regardless. That evening we went to LACMA where the Machine Project was performing a one day take over of the museum with musical acts and experimental art work throughout the five building campus that was all interactive and totally awesome and the way that museums should all try every once in a while. For dinner, we went to Cha Cha Cha where Nikki really didn't want to give me the rest of her plantain even though she couldn't fit it in her stomach. I had a seafood pasta thing while very vocally coveting Paul's veg paella. It's my own fault. While we were in the car trying to figure out where to go, I imagined pasta in my head although I didn't say it out loud because I wanted the natives to figure out where we should go to dinner. It just happened to be on the menu though Cha Cha Cha is like a spanish restaurant. The Secret kept happening to me that whole day. Like, earlier when we were walking to the train, I was trying to think of one word but thought Capri Sun instead. And then, lo, a Capri Sun pouch appeared in the gutter! How often does that happen, I ask you? Also, I had a couple of intense deja vu moments that I can't remember right now.
...to be continued because I have a cold and I'm tired.