The Glamourous Life...

Thursday night, I met up with KG in Little Tokyo to hit up the famous japanese eatery Shabu Shabu House. Always crowded, with waits up to 2 hours, you really have to be in the mood to eat in this small homey restaurant.

Why is it famous? Well, the food quality is great, although not necessarily better then other places, so what brings people coming back is the relatively inexpensive price for normally not so cheap Shabu Shabu. Oh, maybe the fact that people have given the owner a "soup nazi" reverence sure cant hurt its attraction.

As to be expected, it hit the spot.

To keep up with the Japanese theme, we ventured out last night to the Nuart for their midnight showing of The Glamourous Life of Sachiko Hanai.

Part of the "Pink Film" genre (independent soft-core porn films made in Japan for the big screen), I was kinda shocked to see the Nuart hosting the U.S. premiere. I mean, this is the Nuart, famous for hosting famous independent films before anyone else, famous for having the Film Geek from Comedy Central's "Beat The Geeks" game show as a trusted Nuart employee for God knows how long, and famous for their weekly Saturday midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show... okay, so maybe it is not that shocking.
And that's the thing about these Nuart-midnight-showing patrons, they are half Star Wars nerd, half child molestor. Sulking in the shadows with their Larry Bird mustache and trenchcoat... God I love those weirdos.

Yes, that is a guy wearing a George Bush mask. He plays a pivotal role in the movie. Okay, so lets see if I can summarize this insane movie quickly. A callgirl gets shot in the head but lives. The bullet and wound, permanently there now, has made this callgirl, Sachiko Hanai, a super genius. And when I say super genius, I am talking Stephen Hawking... just a tad bit sexier. In her many sex scenes after the ill-fated shooting, she often theorizes about philosophy, metaphysics and existentialism while getting raped or molested.

Along the way, she comes upon the cloned finger of George W. Bush, whose fingerprint can release the world's supply of ICBM missles, thereby destroying the world as we know it.

Sachiko, above, manages, through sex and intellectualism, to get behind the mystery of it all. Does she save the day? Guess you'll just have to watch it...
As far as movies go from crazy Japan, this had all the earmarks of their seemingly usually bizarre fare - rape, torture, unusual sexual afflictions. Although the opening scene, which boasted the most semenal fluid in a jizz-spraying scene I have ever come across WAS pretty amazing, I would have to say the scene that best captured this unusual sexual mindset came when the severed cloned finger of Bush rapes Sachiko while the real Bush looks on via Television. "Feel the power of the Bush Technique" I believe he says as he roots on his cloned finger.

Quite entertaining, but definitely a bit too long. I never thought I would say this, but they should have cut back on the sex scenes. Nothing to go out of your way for, but if you do happen upon the movie, it is definitely worth a quick look.



The Season has begun...

Well, its that time of year again...

that's right, the summer season of the Hollywood Bowl officially started last week, and we celebrated by going to one of the first of many shows on Sunday.

Now, you can't tell, but that is DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist ripping it up. They used all original 45's on a 2x4 to knock the house dead (that's 2 set's of turntables, not a piece of wood!!!). A set like that, and you expect nothing other then pure genius. And for aficiandos, that's what it was. I had Vinyl Richie and DJ Vala sitting next to me, and they were blown away. However, everyone else I was with, who doesn't understand music like that, was less then impressed.
Overall, I thought it was pretty damn cool, but it just was not the right venue. That show is perfect for a small club who's patrons get what a set like that takes. This crowd, they just didnt. You could feel it in the air. Making matters worse, a huge technical difficulty during the finale prematurely ended the set. It just did not feel like a good show, even though it was.
But hey, 13 more shows left this summer to see, so I think everything will be alright...

Went for a little bike ride thru Culver City the other day. Came across some interesting things... like this beautiful tree-lined street.

Always wanted to live on a street like that. Also this strange military parking lot right on Culver that I, for some reason, have past a million times but have never seen.

And of course, the film statue at the park on Overland and Culver honoring the rich history of Culver City.

On Tuesday I found myself out in Santa Fe Springs on some business right around lunch time. As I passed this place on the way to the meeting...

... I knew I had to stop on the way back. I mean, the Chairman's Reserve? How can you not go to a place that offers the Chairman's Reserve!
The place was like a truck stop, literally. There were a good 8 or 9 diesel's parked in the oversized lot right off the 5 in Commerce.
I walk inside and was immediately greeted by the super friendly waitresses. And even though it seemed like everyone there was a regular, I, the stranger, was still treated like a VIP.
So I saddled up and ordered the Chairman's Reserve - Steak and Eggs! It was awesome.

Nice Skirt Steak with salsa was a great touch, not to mention "Ozzie's Potatoes" smothered with green peppers and onions. It was amazing, and all for only $6! I love Ozzie's!
Wait, what's this? Ozzie's also has a lounge! Perfect for the midnight Truckers who just need to have one for the road. I will definitely have to go back some night and check out the scene. Any takers?

And finally, while at Hank's the other night, I ran into the hotel lobby next door and came across this:

There, clearly visible next to the coke machine is the change machine. Yet, for some reason, the hotel finds it necessary to post a large note right on the coke machine stating that the clearly visible change machine is right next to the coke machine. I can only imagine what goes on in that fleabag hotel...



A Quest Called Tommy's

And speaking of Tommy's (mmmm...), I have now formed a new goal for my bike riding adventures.
I guess the idea was originated by Morgan Spurlock in SuperSize Me with McDonald's, but I am going to take, I believe, the idea to a whole new level.
In consecutive days, I plan on visiting every Tommy's in the greater Los Angeles Area by bicycle.

That's right, every day until my task is complete, I will be venturing out, every single day, by bicycle, until every last Tommy's in LA has been conquered.
There are, you see, many differences between Mr. Spurlock's journey and mine.
He was trying to illustrate the negative effects Fast Food, especially an empire like McDonald's, has on all aspects of our lives.
I, on the otherhand, love greasy food and am glorifying it.
He was lazy and DROVE to McDonald's.
I will be BIKING, and hopefully, counteracting some of the negative effects of Tommy's wonderful, heart-stopping, greasy, chili-filled burgers. Oh, and don't forget the fries.
He stopped eating McDonald's after his 30 days.
This quest is just the beginning.

No official date has been set yet, but stay tuned as I try and figure out the schedule...

Go Chili!


An era coming to an end...

Marcos and I have been friends since, well, I can't remember when. He used to be the guitarist for Youth in Asia, and when we lived together for those 4 years back in the 90's, he was the rhythm guitarist for my band, Truckasauras. All because of the day I wore my Screeching Weasel shirt. And now, after so many years of ruling LA, Marcos is moving away.

We met up at Del's Saloon in West LA last night, a haunt for us back in that wonderful decade of yesteryear. Back when it really was a saloon. However, heading back last night, many things have changed. Gone are the grizzled ol' regulars, gone is the even more grizzled old lady who slung us our ale. Those have been replaced by young wannabe hipsters and hot young bartenders. And yes, this is a complaint. Gone is the sole broken TV, replaced by 15 flat screens. You used to only be able to get the shitty domestic beers in bottles... now they have everything imported. And gone is the cash only bar, now taking everything including Discover.

Now don't get me wrong, I would normally love some of these changes. I love imported beer... shit, all I drink is Newcastle (which, by the way, make sure you watch their namesake in the English Premier League this year, they are gonna rock). I love TV... oh do I love TV. And I never ever bring cash with me, so paying by Credit Card is great. But Del's, that was a place where everyone knew my name. Where the bartender sneered at me everytime I walked in. Where the drunk ol' guy at the end of the bar told me the same story every night I was there. And now... now its not. I guess an era is over.

And such is this chapter in my story with Marcos. He and his wife, above at Del's for the last time, are moving to a galaxy far, far away.
Man, we had some times together, some wild, crazyass times. Farewell Marcos, but for ol' times sake, lets go grab a Tommy's Burger before you leave...

mmmm... Tommy's...



Getting better...

Nothing like feeling like you are starting to get into shape. On Wednesday, what turned into an innocent ride to the Santa Monica Library turned into a 40+ mile journey.

After working on a film project I am doing over the next 6 months, I met up with my camera(wo)man at the Tavern in El Segundo for $2.75 Fat Tires (very appropriate).

Getting a lot of work accomplished and downing a few beers, it was time to head home before the sun set. Along the way, I captured these photos in Playa Del Rey/Marina Del Rey.

And just as I was, I got the call from Iwei, Lobo and Mikio (seen below) to meet them up at my favorite restaurant FuRaiBo for some food and grog.

As some of you may know, Mikio has taken over from Vinyl Richie to be project:'s resident DJ at its new location. And wouldn't fate be weird enough, Mikio now lives right next door to me. When I am on my balcony and he is on his, we can literally pass beers to each other. I stopped by his place after trekking home on bike. Nothing like speeding down Sawtelle in the summer night's breeze enjoying the intoxication of the evening...
Here is Iwei (by cameraphone) attempting to DJ with part of Mikio's massive record collection (man that guy needs Serrato).

The next day, the fellows over at the CW network invited myself and Beau to an art opening reception at their offices in Burbank that they have been planning for 6 months. They chose 5 curators from across the country to choose 5 artists to be represented in the show. This was their inaugural run, but more are planned, and project: seems to be one gallery they may use heavily.

Although not officially in project: anymore, I will still be helping out from time to time on larger projects. We have in the works a couple projects with the CW upcoming in the summer and fall, and hopefully many more in the future, so stay tuned...




A few nutty adventures since Friday...

Saturday I decided to ride my bike down to Santa Monica and eat at Pancho's Tacos.

Just look at that place, how can you not go in there? mmmm, nothing like good ol' Mexican food on a Saturday afternoon.

Later that night, Umar, aka Hi Fidel, aka Frohawk TwoFeathers, aka Link80, had a going away BBQ for Chinatown legend Joe Mak.

They started at 2pm, I got there at 10pm and there was food everywhere. I left somewhere around 3am and they were still going strong on the BBQ pit Umar hastily dug in the ground. I was still full well into the next day. Good luck, Joe Mak, wherever you may end up...

Sunday, the Avengers were at STAPLES, so I decided to bike to work to 1) enjoy the beautiful Sunday afternoon and 2) see if I could survive riding down Pico without getting hit. Never realized how many El Salvadorean restaurants were packed on this street. Also never realized that there is a giant Ethiopian Church sitting right there on Pico, not far from St. Sophia, the giant Greek Orthadox Church.

The Avengers won, and instead of biking home, I ended up at Hank's again. Don't really remember what happened after that, but I woke up the next morning in bed with my bike laying in the middle of the living room floor. Thanks mysterious stranger who drove me and my bike home...

Today, I wound up in Atwater Village around lunch time, so I drove around, knowing I was bound to run into some greasy jem. And that's when I saw it, the Gold Star Drive-In restaurant.

I was sold immediately. Gold Star! And the Star is actually Black!!! Done.
I swing in by the huge tree that shades the restaurant and pull in back. It has a Drive-Thru!!! And this place is perfect, I wouldn't really call it a restaurant, more like a food shack that has a nice dining area. And that dining area is packed. The menu was half Mexican food, half American. What do I go with? Although I know the Mexican food here has got to be good, this place has that All-American feel to it, so I decide it has to be a Pastrami sandwich or something along those lines. Wait, Steak Sandwich? Done.

Everything was perfect. The awesome styrofoam cup from the early 80's with the fake sunset on it, the perfectly fried and golden steak fries, and the steak itself, nice and tender. Sure $10, but totally worth it. And looking around to what everyone else ordered, it felt like I could come here everyday, order something completely different, and never be disappointed.
Gold Star, you get 5 Gold Stars from me... and 3 exclamation points.

On the way home through Silverlake, I happened upon this Pizza place...

Is it really called Hard Times Pizza Co.???
I had this great rant I was going rattle off here about the unbelievably poor choice yet amazing title to name your business. But then I did a little research and found out that this place has been around forever and has a few locations (who knew?). And in doing said research, I came upon some really funny reviews that might be able to say it better then I can. Here are two from Yelp:
"What an appropriate name. At times, it's hard to love this pizza place."
"Oh Hard Times...
Hard Times and I used to date 2 to 3 years ago. I've since moved on. While I was attracted to her greasy thin NY style pizza, change of management has caused overall pizza quality to go down. Being once a heavy hitter in the LA pizza scene, hard times is more of a memory these days. We still talk, but its awkward."



A little Vicodin goes a long way...

Went to the Airliner last night to check out my buddy Sanchez's band, Gadget Car. Its an all Latino punk rock band. Here they are...

Wait a second, that's not them...
But it should have been. The Airliner double-booked, and instead of letting on Gadget Car, who had the place packed with fans, they let on these chumps who couldn't even keep up with the rhymes on their own CD.
Pissed, Sanchez and the rest of Gadget Car tell the owners to stick it and are off

Quite the downer, we decide to head to Hank's in downtown, where the drinks are strong and there is always room at the bar.
After a few beers and a couple vicodin, Sanchez is starting to feel much better about the whole situation.

I end up talking to some artist dude who is 46 and living in his parents garage. We
skip the art talk and get right into a 20 minute conversation about his vasectomy. Oh, and I met a former stripper who now makes a kick ass living in the tech field. Ahhhh, Hank's...



Maps and maps...

So as I alluded to earlier in the week, I have big plans this summer now that I have freed up a little time. Some work related, others just to have some fun.

One project I am working toward is one tall order. I am going to try and ride every street in LA on my nifty brand new bike. Considering how out of shape I am, its a lofty goal indeed.
I got free maps from AAA to help me scope it out, and my God am I in for some trouble. I used the highlighter there to give some reference to the scope of this project.

As you can see, I laid out these 4 maps of the 4 sections of LA to show what insanity truly is. Here is a closer look at how many tiny streets there are on just one tiny section of one map. You may also see the highlighted sections of the streets I already hit.

And, like the pig that I am, I have planned all my trips around hole in the wall joints I have always wanted to hit up, but never have. Yesterday the Brickhouse in Venice, tomorrow some greasy spoon in Downtown. Who knows where each day will take me, but you can guarantee it will take me to a place that will get me well feed and/or well inebriated.

Today I had a trip planned into Santa Monica, but due to an injury sustained this morning...

... riding was out of the question (believe me, it is much more painful then it looks. I have been hobbling around all day).

So what to do? Well, why not hit up some heartattack joint a little farther away by car. Sure, its somewhat against my plan, but I still need to eat, right?
I decided to go for Chili John's in Burbank for a couple reasons:
1) I was already in the city on some unrelated business
2) I knew if I tried this one by bike, I'd be throwing up all the way home.

Driving past this place often over the last couple years, I have always felt this dire need to try it.

The allure? Just look at that sign! And that facade! "Famous from Coast to Coast"!!! How can you not be seduced by its gentle siren call???

Walking in, it has a similar set-up to the old burger places from the 50's (a la Apple Pan): an oval counter surrounds the kitchen, everyone forced to face each other. I took a spot on the left side and surveyed the place. It was perfect. The chili, just inches away, was bubbling over the pot. The place was packed with fat guys. And everyone was smiling. This was gonna be good.
it wasn't.
My hopes and dreams dashed so quickly.
I got a bowl of chili and a tamale, washing it down with a glass of coke.

Not a whole lot of food. And the quality? It was good, but not great. The chili had that right amount of grease just floating on top like an oil spill in the Pacific, but the taste never really grabbed me. And the tamale... aye carumba. It tasted like paste.
Maybe some cheese will make it better...

Hey, thanks guys, just go ahead and plop it right on there. Amazing, it still held to the shape of its container.
But honestly, the staff was super friendly. I believe its family run. Still, after all was said and done, I was still kinda hungry. Worse yet, I was $11.80 out... I didn't feel like throwing down more cash for something that probably would have made me upset. One thing I must admit though, if you want a quick meal, this is the place. I was in and out in 10 minutes. No joke. True fast food.
So, here is the funny thing. As I am walking out, contemplating a let down of expectations and an overcharged meal, I still was feeling good. Maybe it was the grease getting to my head, but I felt great. Better then I had in weeks. So, Chili John's, even though I was a little underwhelmed, I still had a really positive experience. Thank you.
Will I come back? Oh hell no.



Ballona to Brickhouse

Trivia night at the Irish Times, is there nothing better on a Tuesday night. But I know those bastards are cheating, who possibly could know Engelbert Humperdinck wrote the score to Hansel and Gretel, which American city has the largest rodeo and France created Denim??? Damn these phones with internet!

On another note, I ended up in Venice today and had lunch at Brickhouse on Hampton. Tucked on a small corner behind the hustle and bustle of Abbot Kinney, this outdoor diner is perfect for the midweek breakfast.

It really is funny though, the type of people and conversation a Venice outdoor nook like this attracts. Overheard from my table in a 15 minute span were these conversations:
"Man this chick was a howler. She loved sex. Couldn't get enough. And the weird things she did when we were having sex... you don't even want to know."
"I don't know, I feel the Venice art scene is in danger. Too many wannabes are trying to infiltrate the scene. It disgusts me."
"So, yeah, my script is in the middle of devolopment. Got great financial backing. I figure when all is said and done, all of us should be walking away with a hefty little salary."
"The literary world is in shambles right now, not having any big blockbusters like Da Vinci Code in the tunnel. People don't read anymore. I sure don't read."
Funny thing is, all these conversations came from the same guy. Wearing a pink shirt and plaid shorts, this guy looked like he hadnt been laid in years, let alone found someone stupid enough to invest dollar one to finance his flick. And don't get me started on his art or literary credentials. Ahhh, LA peeps... you gotta love em.
To get a full feel, here are the other patrons sitting near my table: two bulky bodybuilders who most likey just got out of Gold's Gym next door, eating their eggwhite platters, two super hot ladies in their skimpy bikinis and an old lady, who like me, came to have an omelette and read the paper.
Speaking of omelette, here it is:

And damn good it was. Sure it was about $10, but every once in a while you got to splurge, enjoy life and eat some breakfast outdoors while listening to some Alt classics blasting from a solo blown-out speaker.

So the Brickhouse was great, but it was tough deciding where in the area to eat. I came so close to heading to Casablanca, where the food is cheap and plentiful, the tortillas are fresh and amazing, and no matter when you are there, it is always time for tequila.

But I am getting way ahead of myself.

The reason I was here in the first place, I wanted to take a ride down Ballona Creek on my brand new bike. This 8 mile path, starting in Culver City, ends up right at the ocean in Marina Del Rey. Although not the prettiest of rides in the beginning (damn my camera)...

...it ends up being quite beautiful once you get in the Marina (yey, I fixed it!)...

Along the way, ran into this mural from last year on Hampton by Buffmonster...

You know, I never really got the attraction to this guy. For some reason, people can't get enough of this clown. But hey, he sells... most of the time.

Back to Ballona, it was a nice ride despite my earlier negativity, very serene and quite, great way to get out there and ride, not have to worry about traffic, and get lost in thought. Of course, coming back home through Mar Vista, I definitely had more to worry about: dodging people opening their car doors, trucks waiting til you are right behind them before they decide to turn right, and of course all this while wishing you didn't eat that last piece of toast.

Up next, LA stop number 5 for Peanut Butter Wolf and more bike madness.