our L/Ast two days

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

our L/Ast two days

Tom and Patti left on Sunday but we stayed until Tuesday evening so Cliff could catch up on his songwriting with Willie Wisely http://www.myspace.com/wiselymusic and Danny Wilde.

Monday we got up and had a very tasty breakfast at Millie’s with Mark. Even though it was early in the morn I had a BLT as that was what Mark ordered and it sounded like it would hit the spot. It did. The folks there were very nice, even though their tees claim that their motto is “Service with a Fuck You”. Anyone who has worked in the service industry has to love that one. Why am I thinking of Neal Shreeve right now?!

Cliff had a meeting at the 101 with his old manager Russell Z for lunch, and as you can imagine, having had a BLT just a few hours before I was not in the mood for lunch just then. I had not seen Russell in ages but knew that it was better that Cliff just meet with him. This also gave me the opportunity to do a touristy thing and head down to Hollywood Blvd and find Ruby Keeler’s star. She was a friend of my great aunt Agga, they met when both of their husbands were in the Navy. Agga told me that one of Ruby’s daughters has the middle name Agnes because of her, but I have yet to be able to confirm that. So this is about as famous as my fam gets!

I walked down the sidewalk and while I was walking noticed that on some level some stars resonated with me more than others, so I snapped photos. Kittie Carlisle has just passed away and she was pretty cool, I took a photo of Liz Taylor’s star for Connie, and how could I pass Ella Fitzgerald without taking a shot? Ruby’s star was not exactly where I had thought it would be but I did find it, and then it was off to buy some postcards to send home.

It was amazing the difference that the giant Kodak Center makes on the Boulevard. When I first went to Los Angeles in 1998 I stayed in the Orchid Suites, a divey little place within a block from the boulevard. We literally walked from the hotel down to the middle of it all. The next year when we returned we had decided to stay at the Magic Castle Motel on Franklin, just a block further up, because we had seen how much nicer it was than the Orchid the night Wendi and I went to the party in Love Nut’s room with the Starbelly guys. Also that year was when there was construction happening right next to the Orchid. Well the construction was the building of the giant centre, and now the street the Orchid is on is a dead end, with the loading dock to the centre right next to the entrance of the Orchid. My how time changes everything.

Cliff called me after his meeting was done and picked me up at the corner of Hollywood and Vine- seemed like a memorable place to meet, and we headed into the Hollywood Hills to Willie’s house. The traffic was pretty miserable for a while even though we weren’t that far away and once again I was reminded of the things that people deal with just to live out here. We did take a left and make it up some narrow windey streets to the Wisely’s house, where WW was practicing in the garage and welcomed us warmly. OK enough W’s.

I headed out for a few hours of exploring on my own, which is always a treat. Heading back towards Los Feliz I did snap a few photos of the Orchid and the Magic, since they are part of Cliff and my history now. I went to Wacko, as had been suggested, and it was a treasure trove of all things pop and cool. Books and coasters and clothing and bags and toys and records, cards, stickers, prints, you name it. I often get overwhelmed when  I am presented with so many cool things, that I really could not pick out just one thing to buy. Somehow when it is all presented en masse it seems less special. I did take a look at the Shag prints, and if I had seen one that really did it for me, I would have taken the plunge, but none was just quite right. I did spend hours there though, so looking was just as fun as buying, or not buying as the case may be.

From there it was off to Vermont. Since I really hadn’t had lunch I was feeling a bit peckish, so I found the Figaro Cafe to have some tea and a croissant. Not as good as the Chateau, however it hit the spot as I sat outside in the sun and tried to write. I say tried because unfortunately I was just a table away from a couple of gals blabbing loudly about their lives, and on the other side of me a gang of folks were trying to out-funny one another with their witty repartee. Maybe it’s just like that out here, everyone saying “look at me! listen to me!”  which I can find exhausting. There was one point where they all had mometarily shut up, there was no traffic going by and even the background CD was between tracks and it was blissfully silent. It probably wasn’t even for 15-20 seconds but long enough for it to register and for me to say to myself, now THIS is what we need more of! As DM suggested, I did in fact enjoy the silence.

Since the cafe was right next to a vintage store I went in there and ended up buying a cute little sundress, and before you know it the time was up on my meter and I needed to get back into the hills and pick up Hillis. The traffic wasn’t nearly so bad this time, and Cliff came outside and met me as I was parking the car. The W’s were getting work done on their house, so we had to go up there via the neighbor’s side dog past their yappy dogs. I was introduced to W’s wife Kay(?) and their daugher Emma and we sat in the kitchen and chatted for a while. They are the nicest of folks and of course I told them they were more than welcome to visit us in Phoenixville if they ever happened to be in the Philly area. Then it was time for us to leave as Cliff’s gig was tonight.

We were a bit early for the gig but in the same neighborhood basically so it made no sense to try and head back across town. We drove around for a bit, saw folks in line to meet I think it was Limp Bizkit (funny I just had to ask Cliff how to spell that) and also folks were lined up to get into CBS for, we think, one of Bob Barker’s last days on The Price Is Right. All in a day’s work here in L/A.

We got a quick drink at the Snake Pit on Melrose to bide the time, and then soon enough it was time to head to Ghengis Cohen. I wrote some postcards in the car while Cliff checked out the scene inside, and then Anna, Mark and her friend Chairman showed up. I went inside where we ordered way too much tasty Chinese food (will have to ask Anna what that shrimp was that she said John Faye gets, it was delish) and a Mai Tai, that while not as colorful as the one from the Good Luck, totally kicked me in the butt. Cliff bowed out of dinner early and Chuck joined us, and then we all headed across the hall to see Cliff play.

The performance space at Ghengis is tiny, with pews on either side of the main aisle, so it was as if Cliff were to perform in a chapel rather than a restauarant in Hollywood. I was nervous that it would be empty, but friends and aquaitances began to trickle in and the place was decently full for a Monday night gig. I What can I say? He played a good set, I had to remind myself that a lot of these folks had not heard the new songs that I had been privy to, and the response was enthusiastic. Before you know it the gig we had been waiting so long for was over, and folks were chatting and leaving, as tomorrow was a work day for most.

It wasn’t a work day for us, so we headed out with Kevin to The Dime, right across from Canters and next to Largo, for one more drink. It was a small place and seemed like just a regular bar, until I noticed that all of the tiny tables had reserved signs on them. Can you imagine! L/A. I swear. Anyhow I did ask the bartender about it and he said that someone had just left the corner booth so we were able to sit there. I bet it was just a gimmic, I mean it would be like the Rat back in the day, having you make reservations. Actually the Rat was a lot cooler than this place, but whatever. A drink or two later it’s time to go. Kevin said he had ridden his bike so I expected a 10 speed not a motorcycle and that gave me a good chuckle. Then it was off to Los Feliz.

Tuesday can be summed up pretty easily. Chicken and Waffles at Roscoes with Anna and Mark (I am addicted). Driving out towards Danny’s we get the call that he has just gotten a last minute jingle request and feels bad for cancelling with Cliff. We take it in stride, as we’ve done plenty of stuff on this trip already, so the free time is a treat.

Since we’re on the Ventura Highway in the Sunshine (actually it was cool and grey out) we decided to go to Ventura- as that was my destination for the day anyways, and check out the thrift stores we had been told about. We drove through Pleasant Valley, and I said to Cliff, “Hey its another Pleasant Valley Tuesday” which amused me. Thrifting in Ventura was OK, a lot of folks and some overpriced stuff, but it was cool to poke around in the shops etc. We had In/Out Burgers for lunch, and Cliff was able to connect up with Robbie Rist, so we stopped by his studio to chat on our way to the airport. Cliff and Robbie worked on an impromptu song and I just hung out and took it all in as our moments out here were dwindling down to a precious few.

The rest is like the end of anyone else’s vacation- dropping off the rental car, spending too long in the airport, you know the deal. We had hoped to get a last drink in town at the place at the top of the cool mod building at LAX, but A&M informed us that it had been closed for renovations. So we got a McDonald’s cheeseburger in the airport and waited for our redeye flight that would drop us in Philly at 6:30 in the morning on Wednesday. Back to reality. But boy did we have fun while we were away!

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May 22, 2007. road*betty.

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