It’s Friday night and we’ve flown into LA for the screening of The Car at the LA Shorts Fest. Several friends have come along for the screening at the ArcLight Cinema in Hollywood. There’s Joseph and Lynn. Russ Collins from the Michigan Theater has come out to LA on business and is there, and so is my actor friend, Mark. Only one problem. The screening is sold out.
Somehow Lynn and Joseph have secured tickets anyway and Mark is already in the theater by this point, which just leaves Russ. We hang on to the last possible minute and the guy at the festival tent relents and gives Russ a ticket he’d been keeping in case a filmmaker showed late. We hurry in and we’re rewarded with catching the end of someone’s speechifying about a film that doesn’t live up to its own hype. But we’re in.
Overall, the standard was pretty high and it was fun to be in LA. Laura and I used a load of frequent flier miles to get there so we felt justified in hiring a bright red Mustang convertable for the weekend. It was worth it. We drove up to Malibu for lunch on Saturday and came back with the top down, cruising down Sunset Boulevard, playing a track called Comfort Eagle by Cake. Playing it loud.
We are building a religion,
We are building it bigger
We are widening the corridors and adding more lanes
We are building a religion.
A limited edition
We are now accepting callers for these pendant keychains
To resist it is useless,
It is useless to resist it
His cigarette is burning but it never seems to ash
He is grooming his poodle
He is living comfort eagle
You can meet at his location but you’d better come with cash
Now his hat is on backwards. He can show you his tattoos
He is in the music business he is calling you “DUDE!”
This is our theme for the weekend and we play it as we pass by Duran Duran’s star on the walk of fame, we play it as we check out the Beautiful People, we play it as we head on over to the Biltmore Hotel. This is where we’re meeting Russ and Joseph for drinks. We park underground and emerge into downtown LA. There’s only a handful of people on the street and they are either moving quickly or asking for change. Laura is impressed enough with one story to part with a dollar.
Outside, the Biltmore is huge. Inside it’s more lavish than the Ritz and, lucky for us, doesn’t have a dress code. They don’t have someone on guard to gesture with thumb and forefinger at their collars while breathing the word “tie” like a religious mantra. They just bring us peanuts and nibbles. They provide a drinks menu. They serve us. Which is nice.
We drink 007’s, a martini which is a mix of vodka and gin. They seem pretty potent. Actually I started with a G&T which was far more gin than tonic. Lynn had a single glass of wine and then interrogated Russ, who didn’t seem put out and, in fact, stayed for at least two more drinks. I don’t think he ever made his business meeting that night.
Sunday, we went up to Griffith Park, which is one of the truly cool things to do in LA. The observatory is closed until next year but it’s a great view and there seem to be a plethora of hiking trails around there. Hiking wasn’t on our “to do” list, however. Onwards it was until we came, at last, to Gower Gulch–a strip mall named for the cowboy-film casting calls once held there–where good Mexican folk smiled and made us sushi. We ended our stay with a brief ride out to the beach, to see the sea and hear the surf before crashing on to the shores of our pillows for the night.
There was more. There’s always more. There was a cathedral. There was architecture. There were other beers. Many beers. There was being stuck in traffic in one of the most beautiful neighbours you could imagine while the Hollywood Triathlon blocked the roads. There was breakfast at Farmer’s Market and Mark and I talked a bit about getting the best performance from an actor and… Well, there was more. And let’s not forget “The Car”–sold out in Hollywood. What a great city. Great people. Great weekend.