Thursday, October 13, 2011

Goodbye Silver Spoon

As of this moment, I still consider myself too young to have seen the passing of so many eras:

The AMC 8 Galleria movie theatre closed in the early 2000s and it was, as many of my New Orleans brethren will remember, a staple of pre-teen and teenage life in New Orleans.

My grandmother was forced out of her home- the home I grew up in and in which I felt the most comfortable- in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The end of (and passing of 75% of) "The Golden Girls".

Tonight, I said a sad goodbye to a constant in my life since moving to Los Angeles in 2003: The Silver Spoon Diner/Bar.

I kept Silver Spoon a secret from many of you. Yes, it's true. And there are a few good reasons for that- the most important being that there was a bar at the Silver Spoon. A dive bar. A bar that could not hold many people. A bar that was not supposed to hold many people. A bar that was cozy enough to hold only the people it should: me and my friends who discovered the bar together.

And it was a treasure. One thing that keeps a person from going completely balls-out insane in this City of Angels is finding one's own slice of earth. Whether that slice of earth is one's own apartment or coffee shop or park bench, everybody needs something that they can secretly claim for themselves. Otherwise, they will become lost in this over-caffeinated, hyped-up, self-absorbed concrete jungle.

For me and a small of group of my oldest Los Angeles friends, that place was the Silver Spoon. By day, the Silver Spoon was a greasy-spoon diner often visited for breakfast that was notorious for giving us loyal patrons The Runs. A place where I met some legends like Shelley Winters and Quentin Tarantino and became friends with one of the most down-to-earth and friendliest people I've met since arriving in this fair city: Robert Forrester. By night, it was a diner that had a little-known bar attached to it where you could have The Run of The Place and (mostly) everyone knew your name.

I first walked into the Silver Spoon with my good friends Todd Milliner and Michael Matthews at the age of 22. In that time, I've done quite a bit of growing up here. I've talked things through, I've worked shit out, I've solidified friendships, I've put others to rest and I've made peace with many things in my own life at the bar at The Spoon. I've been funny, I've been sad, I've been creative, I've been angst-y. But every time I heard someone mention "The Spoon", it was hard for me to resist.

I have nothing but good memories of this ridiculously out of place middle-America crappy diner, and I always will.

It's a shame that, as we were all saying tonight, we can't seem to leave well enough alone in this country. When in Scotland last year, I ran across many coffee shops and small stores that couldn't possibly have turned much of a profit. And yet, they'd existed for decades. Why? Because there wasn't an absurdly frantic pursuit of the Almighty Dollar in their country and people were allowed to have their small bookstores and cafes just for the simple pleasure of it.

The Silver Spoon has been purchased.

As of tonight, the bar no longer exists. Within the next day or two, the diner will be completely closed. In its place will be a Sunset Strip-type club that will probably change ownership and concept every 6 months until it ultimately closes down and becomes an empty space.

It is indeed The End of An Era. It's the sad, unfortunate truth of our world- the times, they are a-changin'. Not much gold can stay. Places that develop meanings to people end up being bought out and torn down or sold off and completely changed... and those meanings become nothing more than memories. So maybe the trick is to hold make a bunch of good memories, hold onto them and then do your best to make new ones.

Who knows?

I surely don't.

Goodbye Silver Spoon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Whipping Post President

Tonight, President Obama's jobs bill is expected to fail in Congress.

You know this bill... this is the bill that Obama persistently took to the airwaves and challenged Congress to pass. "PASS THIS BILL" he said, even childishly leading crowd chants during his addresses.

Whether or not you agree with the tenets of this jobs bill (there is certainly the argument to be made that this is just another stimulus which has already proven to be ineffective), the failure of another Obama effort rings the alarum bell. His ineffectiveness over the last year is hard to ignore. And this time around, not only is every single Republican expected to vote against Obama's Jobs Bill but even some Democrats have jumped ship.

This occurrence is exactly why I am a registered Independent. This is also exactly why I believe the political party system has begun to and will continue to ruin the United State of America. Today, despite having the majority in the Senate and a President from their party in office, the Democrat Party is achieving very little. As a matter of fact, if this were a boxing match the fight probably would have been stopped a few months ago. The Republican Party somehow manages to not only control both houses of Congress but also renders the President completely helpless. Consequently, America is being run by only one viewpoint- and that makes it a dictatorship.
This GOP aggression and Democratic passivity has existed for a while. And based on the events of tonight, it isn't going to change anytime soon.

I'm sad to see Obama become such a disappointment. But, a spade is a spade. I've always refused to be someone who votes for the lesser of 2 evils, and I will not start doing that with my vote in 2012. Either Obama takes a stand or I, for one, will vote for either a 3rd party candidate who I like or no one at all- even at the cost of a vote for said lesser evil.

I also encourage everyone else to consider doing the same. It's about time we stopped settling. It's about time we REALLY begin holding our government accountable for its actions. It's time we let our votes truly speak for us instead of compromising and voting for someone about whom we feel lukewarm.

Let's hold the GOP to those standards- do what's best for the country, or you're not gonna get the Presidency back. Let's also hold Obama to those standards- either fight for us, or you're gone.

It's gotta start sometime...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Touch of (First) Class

It's like you've joined a secret society.

I'm not going to go so far as to say that I don't usually get friendly service on airplane travel. I usually fly Virgin (on longer flights) and Southwest (for trips back home to the South)- 2 airlines that I think- based on my experiences- have earned the right to brag about good service. However, I recently had my first foray into the oft-exalted first class. On a non-stop flight from Los Angeles to New York City and back again, I was given the key to this secret world.

And, you know... it is truly a different dimension folks.

No waiting in check-in lines, hot towels, drinks (in glasses!) at your every beck and call, free cocktails, meals, COOKIES, a personal entertainment with noise-cancelling headphones, seats that recline ALL THE WAY, pillows, thick blankets... and, most importantly, a complete lack of that awful putrid canned-air smell that usually rules the nostrils as soon as one steps onto a plane.

Additionally, the way you are treated is night and day. It is as if the crew is delighted to have you! Perhaps in this difficult, painful economy American Airlines is indeed pleased to actually have First Class Passengers- but one gets the impression that this is the normal treatment of passengers by crew.

A few years back and for reasons I've never completely deciphered, a switch flipped in me. I have flown all my life. As a child of divorced parents who lived in 2 different states for a while, I flew by myself at times at a very young age with nary a care in the world. Takeoff and landing used to feel like a ride. However, somewhere in my early 20s, that changed. Takeoff and landing began to find me white-knuckled and staring breathlessly out of the window... mind racing with the darkest thoughts of the fragility of human life and the hopes that I have just pinned to a metal tube that is now hurtling miles above the earth at 500+ miles per hour. The slightest turbulence sends me, full steam ahead, into the most intense prayer sessions while switching my iPod to the Gospel genre.

On the flight- perhaps empowered by my treatment as a "first class passenger"- I took it upon myself to walk up to 2 female flight attendants on my way to the bathroom. We had been experiencing turbulence. And let it be known that, for me, the longer turbulence persists during a flight the more convinced I become that the wings are slowly ripping off the fuselage and the plane is indeed falling apart. I approached the 2 kind ladies and asked them to hit me with it.

'Be totally honest, I can take it. Does turbulence make you nervous?'

In response I was not only greeted with the most satisfying and calming answer possible ("Not in the slightest. Turbulence is like driving on a bumpy road") but they then used another tactic to make me forget all my troubles:

They informed me that I had won the flight attendants' Cutest Passenger Award.

That's right... if you ever happen to encounter me during a rare instance of "losing it", just remember: tell me I'm hot and all will be forgotten. This is a truth that I actually did not know about myself until this trip to First Class. Ok so maybe I'm a bit egotistical in this regard, but- hey- if giving me statistics that support the idea that flying is a safe way to travel and explaining the harmless physics of turbulence don't comfort me, is it so bad that complimenting my looks is what does the trick?

Everybody's got their something.

As for future travel, it's going to be hard for me to go back to the dreaded cabin next time I fly. Comfort will most certainly decrease, service will not have that gleam-in-the-eye/glad-to-have-ya attitude and cocktails won't be free. I won't be able to acquire the miraculous noise-cancelling headphones unless I get a 2nd mortgage. The 3 hours of sleep I caught on my return flight in a fully reclined seat with blanketed comfort will only be a treasured memory.

However, it's best that one gets to experience the High Life every now and then. Keeps the dreams fresh. Ensures that one remembers that there are still goals to be attained, still mountains to climb and still peaks to be reached. Now when I'm putting in the hard hours, I have one more conquest to add to my life's checklist.

You will be mine again, First Class. Oh yes, you will be mine again.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

One Hand In The Air for The Big City

New York City.

There's a reason they write about it the way they do. There's a reason why there have been so many great songs and movies and books written about the metropolis (whilst Los Angelenos have to settle for Randy Newman's forgettable attempt at praising their city with "I Love LA" and Steve Martin's thumb-in-the-eye film LA Story).

New York City is a place that is not just visited, it is not just experienced... it is felt. NYC has an attitude, a personality, and a character that makes being there a fulfilling experience. It is a life not lived in most of the United States. It is certainly a far cry from Los Angeles- a city so spread out that the word neighborhood only has at best a 1/10th of the meaning it has in NYC.

I love NYC. And every time I go there, I feel like I learn some things. I returned yesterday from a quick weekend jaunt to wrap filming on an upcoming episode of CSI: NY. Allow me to share with you a few things NYC helped me to realize this time around:

- First Class really is the only way to travel. Granted this isn't necessarily a NYC-taught lesson, but imagine if my first First Class experience had been on a 45 minute flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco... ugh.

- I'm not really a big talker in cabs, car services, etc... Sometimes it's nice just to enjoy the ride. However, if you take a chance on good conversation with someone enthusiastic about the city they love, that love is passed on and you begin to feel it too.

- No matter how old it gets or how many buildings pass it by as the Tallest In The World, The Empire State Building is a thing of beauty. Having a view of it from your hotel room is incredible. Turning off all the lights in your room as you prepare for your bed and staring at the NYC skyline highlighted by the Empire State Building is orgasmic.

- Central Park is everything you want it to be. And quite often, even more.

- Some people never change. Many times that can be a good thing. But when change was the goal, time has just been

- What? What's that? You love architecture too?! Oh well, then by all means... GO TO NYC!
- When in Rome, do what the Romans do. When in New York, make sure to get a slice of pizza.

- The Riverside Church of New York is such an
amazingly grand and yet somehow foreboding building that my imagination convinced me that if I were to sneak into it, climb the tower and its long spires, the part of me that loves a good conspiracy and mystery would be rewarded by some hidden room at the top with a centuries-old secret locked inside of it.

- New York makes me want to move there... and then the temperature drops.

- Adam Wilson is one hell of a good man. If I ever stop making time to see him when I'm in his city, I will deserve the title of World's Biggest Asshole.

- Subways are not that big of a mystery. And if you look like you know what you're doing, you won't look as much like a visitor.

Ah yes, NYC...
no place like it.

Can't wait to go back.