Diary of Lisa Taylor, reluctantly 42 (and a half)

Or.. 'f.ck me I'm forty.. two.. and a half', though can look 38 on a - not so deluded - good day. Or 'How to reconcile a well experienced mind trapped in a still - but for how long? – youthful body.' Don't have the 30somethings angst/problems, neither have the resigned (?) ageing baby-boomers in safe family territory outlook yet. Here's how I cope, one day all sexy women will get old... but never invisible. © Lisa Taylor 2005/6/7/8/9. Jeez.. so much for the 42 and-a-half delusion

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

23 May - Toph's LA stories

Since there is a small tradition in this blog of using other people's stories from time to time to break the monotony of my preoccupations with the same-same things, here's some of Toph's run ins whilst in la la land.

So LA is still hot as a handbag – a freak heatwave has hit town and it’s close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Within seconds of walking down Larchmont Blvd I hear the words “He’s soooo cute. And I suddenly feel a strong desire to scream abuse at both the dog and the owner - and I like dogs – or did. “Where did you get him from?” “We got him in New Jersey” the owner boasts, as if it were Pomerania.

Thursday afternoon they shut down part of Hollywood Boulevard to allow Depeche Mode to promote their new album on something called The Jimmy Kimmel Show. To me, Kimmel is just another blank dude in a suit who does lame talk-shows. Somehow these Lettermans and Lenos and Fergussons are seen to be counter-cultural over here. By 7-00 pm the tattooed hipsters who have been duped into waiting for hours for this free concert are too fed-up to acknowledge Kimmel’s lame attempts to bond with the crowd. He thanks the sponsors and the local politicians who allowed this street party to happen despite protestations from the killjoys who actually live in the area. “If you like Depeche Mode vote for him.” The whole thing smacks of corporatised radical chic – overpaid talk-show hosts trying to get down with an audience of extras from a vampire movie. The warm-up man gets ignored and then booed. This turns out to be the most rebellious part of the evening.

The DJ plays assorted 80s synth pop tunes to keep the crowd on-side and then, after a run of tracks by New Order, The Cure and (ahem) Erasure, the bendy-string intro to The Killing Moon bounces off the buildings on Hollywood Boulevard as the sun sets. It’s a truly great moment.

At 8-30, The Mode finally come on and go through the motions: Personal Jesus, Walking in My Shoes, some songs from the new album. It sounds tired and flat, like they’ve been doing it for 25 years. Then I remember that they have been doing it for 25 years. Now it’s personal, Jesus ! I’ve been walking in their shoes for 25 years. I’ve had all those haircuts. I used to hear their songs at college !!! But Dave Gahan looks great – a few lines under the eyes (but, hey, we’ve all got those dark craters now). It must be the heroin. He’s pickled in opiates.

The crowd is going through programmed rock & roll motions: handing round marijuana, climbing on security fences, tearing a few things down. The LAPD are here in force and have started to draw batons and shout at people. One young girl is violently dragged from a fence she’s climbed to get a better view. Protesting that she’s pregnant, she’s pushed to the ground and arrested. Now, I’ve seen Crash and I’ve seen LA Confidential and I know the nasty history of the LA Police Department and I’m bored by the Mode, so I decide to move on….to The Viper Room.

Yes. To The Viper Room to see my friend J. play an acoustic set with his band, Darlings of the Day. His wife is the lead singer. She’s called Sterling and looks a bit like Chrissie Hynde. They sing witty, punky pop songs which wouldn’t have been out of place in 1979. In fact, they could have influenced the young Depeche Mode. The Viper Room is like a dark scout hut and there are about 40 people watching and woo-hooing. J. and Sterling leave the stage complaining of monitor problems and general techie disappointments. They are followed by The Policecars – you’d better believe it - a band which alternates songs by The Police and song by The Cars. When they launch into their perfect facsimile of Message in A Bottle, the giant bouncer on the door is so excited that he has to come in from the street and bop around like Mr. Blobby. Suddenly any under-age kid is free to rush the Viper Room and quickly take a drug overdose and die. It’s a window of opportunity which only lasts until they play the next in a succession of Cars’songs which I don’t know - and never knew.

So it’s back to J and S’s apartment behind the Viper Room. Where else would aspiring rock stars live? The smell of marijuana hits you from a block away. Inside the tiny studio flat is an assortment of bandana-ed and tattooed rock types. It’s very Spinal Tap. I’m introduced to a Healer called Ramyn. He’s been giving free sessions to the girls in the room which involves lying them down on the sofa-bed and feeling their jaws and their breasts. He tells me he’s Dave Stewart’s personal healer and that Annie Lennox always uses him before she goes on The Letterman Show. She adores him because he can make her look ten years younger. He’s now working with Pantera. I assume that’s a heavy-metal band. “What’s wrong with you, Man?” “Well, nothing, really.” He feels my pulse: “Your right kidney is out of balance, Man.” He feels my jaw: “Wow, Man, This side sticks out much more than the other. Feel it, Man.” I feel it and convince myself that he is right. He lies me on the sofa-bed, massages my jaw and pushes down on my breast-bone. “There you go, Man. You look ten years younger.” “Great ! What’s the name of your technique?” “It has no name, Man. It’s a gift.” When I look in the mirror, later, I look exactly the same. Ramyn gives me his card and tells me I should pass it on to E.S. or any other celebrities who need healing.

As I try to leave, a little, twitchy guy who looks a bit like Joe Pesci, grabs me. “I hear you’re a director in Hollywood?” “Well …sort of. I’m actually ….” “Look, I’d be honored if you’d take a look at the script for a pilot I’m producing.” “Are you a writer? A director?” I enquire. “I’m in the beauty industry.” It turns out that he runs a tanning-salon in Santa Monica and is trying to develop something with an actress and comedienne whose tan he manages. He then introduces me to “one of LA’s top hairdressers” whose own hair looks like a matted jungle and is too important to talk to anyone. People are offering me their cards and phone numbers, inviting me to their acupuncturists, yoga gurus, spiritual guides. It’s all too perfect. I have to leave immediately.

And another night produced these reflections..

This time Culver City - a newly chic area inland from Venice Beach. I'm in a restaurant with a Swedish model, her talk-show producer boyfriend, an ex-dance music impresario turned writer and his Brazilian date. It's pure LA and I'm loving it. D. is tired after recording two episodes of his talk-show back-to-back. He's been dealing with Martin Sheen and Hiro from Heroes. He makes a lot of money but he's burnt out by his work. The waitress asks for his order. He doesn't know what he wants. He 's not really hungry. He goes straight for a side-order of brussel sprouts as an appetizer and then he's stuck. A long conversation with the waitress ensues about what he should have. This goes on for about five minutes. I can see why he's good at talk shows. Finally, he asks, triumphantly, "What do you have on skewers?" It's brilliant. I've never heard that before in restaurant and never will again. I congratulate him on spontaneously creating a scene as good as Danny de Vito's all-time great restaurant scene in Get Shorty where he orders off-menu: egg-white omlettes with shallots, lightly toasted, not burnt; suggests everyone should have it and then leaves before the food arrives.

R., the New York of the 80s club-scene survivor ("most of my friends are dead now") also loves that scene from Get Shorty and gives me a high-five. This is praise inded from a man who has been a writer for Oliver Stone. "So which films did you work on?". "Well, I worked with him for a couple of years on a script about the assassination of Bobby Kennedy - he was definitely murdered as part of a big conspiracy." "Who's behind it?". "The same people who killed John Kennedy." "Who's that?" "We don't know?" 'Did the film get made?" "No". "Is Oliver Stone a nice man?" "No."

His Brazilian date reveals that she is studying psychology - spiritual psycholgy. "What's that?" "It's very deep. It takes a lots of insights from ancient traditions in order to heal. It's all about getting those rocks out of your backpack. We believe that we are not bodies with souls but souls who are occasionally in an embodied state." "Aha! I get it." She tells us she's looking for a place to rent for when her young kids come to visit. She's found a place in Malibu for $6000 a week. Clearly souls need a bit of luxury.

J. the Swedish model has spent the morning shooting a commercial for a lot of money and the afternoon riding horses in the desert. She's only in LA for a few weeks visiting her boyfriend. She's noticed that everyone in LA is writing a script - even cab drivers. 'Are you writing a script," I ask jokingly. "Yes" she replies.

They are all lovely, smart people. I conclude that you just change imperceptibly, day by day, when you live in Los Angeles. Please slap me if I ever ask a waitress if she has anything on skewers.


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