11 June 2007

city of angeles, pt.1

It’s 2am ET, and we just got back from California. (Granted, we were up till at least 4amET for the past few days, so actually it’s “early.”) I had all sorts of grandiose ideas about diligently reporting from the front lines in Los Angeles. But truth be told – every minute there was too precious to spend writing on the computer. So, I’m going to cheat and do it now – as though we are still there. Stay with me.


We got up at a semi-ungodly hour (5:30am, me officially sick with a nasty sore throat) and pushed to get to Newark Airport in time (parked in P6-31, P6-31…) – only to then sit on the tarmac for close to an hour. But, these days airlines pad the estimated travel time so much that we landed at LAX technically only about 15 minutes late.

Still, our clock was ticking on a tight schedule: we were to meet Mark’s friend Elliot at his place by 1:30pm, go up to Santa Monica and check out a market/deli called Bay Cities and have a sandwich, and then split up into two cars – they would continue on to look at possible store fronts for rent, and existing gourmet markets, while I headed down to USC for a conveniently scheduled career seminar at 3pm.

Unfortunately, despite not checking any bags, the whole trip to the rental car agency, etc took as long as these things take, and I ended up scarfing down an avocado, cheese and baguette at Elliot’s before scooting onto the good ol’ 10 freeway. (Apparently I didn’t miss much at Bay Cities except an inexplicable spectacle – Mark says it was mobbed, despite serving mediocre sandwiches.)

I won’t go into the details of the seminar itself, which was fruitful, but I must say it was really… refreshing, to go back onto campus after a good 5 or 6 years. It’s summer vacation now, so the place was pretty empty, which allowed the shadows of my time there to bubble up wherever I looked: the walks down 34th street, the improvised lunches, the hanging out around the Lucas building and the sound stages, and mostly, the loading and unloading of C-stands, ARRIs, camera cases, sandbags, etc etc into the hatchback of my little blue Acura (which I totaled one day on the way to a sound mix) or giant cube trucks – whatever the shoot called for. I also felt young and excited again as I descended into the courtyard where I met and bonded with lifelong friends, and poked around the post production building, where I spent many many afternoons, nights and weekends either editing my own films or earning some tuition by “supervising” the joint. I suppose there’s always a sense of nostalgia when returning to a school or other place that defined you, but this had an unexpected effect – of reminding me how damn fun it is to make movies.

Anyway, after basking in the ticklish feeling of being old and young, wise and naive, jaded and dreamy-eyed all at once, I drove the natsukashii (memory-laden) circuit back to the 10 and up to my dear dear friend Hana’s place. She has been my partner in crime from the early days of film school… and had just gotten engaged last Saturday!!...to, um, some guy named Kyle (lol) I’d met for about five minutes (OK, one evening) about two years ago, when they first started dating. Granted, at the time, I’d immediately had a vision of their wedding, but the engagement was still surreal, considering that other than the fleeting meeting, this man was merely a construction of words Hana had told me over the phone. So it was absolutely the perfect time to be visiting her, and make sure this man actually still existed.

Unfortunately, Kyle had a work engagement that night (so Hana said…), so we headed for an LA girl’s night out to – wehre else? – Koreatown, land of smoky BBQs. (And, ok, soon tofu, but that was not the point this evening.) Normally, I insist on going to Soot Bul Jeep, which provides an authentic and delectable experience over flaming charcoal at the table, but we opted for her favorite new kalbi spot, Chosun Kalbi. And I must say, everything was top notch, from the fast but not overbearing service to the selection and sophistication of the panchan (side dishes)…. Not to mention the star of the show, the short ribs, which were incredibly tender and juicy.

Eating all this “stamina” food, including lots of garlic, gave me a boost of energy to go to downtown Los Angeles to check out Cicada – an art deco restaurant/event space, possibly for Hana’s WEDDING. There, I (think I) had a celebrity sighting: Mary Lynn Rajskub, aka “Chloe” from 24. Ran into her as she was coming out of the bathroom. Anyway, the place was gorgeous: old Hollywood glamour, lush, sexy, elegant, but not over the top. Considering it’s the first place she’s looked at, it seemed a real contender; my only concern is that it might be tough to photograph people in the low light during dinner/dancing. But what do I know…

Alas, at this point, jetlag and the cold (now attacking my sinuses) got the best of me. So we climbed back into the car and swung by a drug store, where I loaded up on a convenient half-and-half pack of daytime/nighttime meds, and some orange juice for the next day.

Meanwhile, across town, Mark and Elliot prepped 10 chickens for the roast-off the next evening (Friday). Six were regular chickens and four organic, half each of which were submerged in a margarita marinade, and the other half in a Dijon-mustard French sauce. When we spoke, he also told me about the highlight of their day: a visit to Le Sanctuaire, a high-end store that caters to chefs. Located in Santa Monica, a prime shopping/residential/beach district, this was actually a potential venue for our store, and apparently it’s perfect – exposed brick, walk-in refrigerator in the back – wouldn’t need any buildout. BUT, there is already an offer pending… and, it only has what’s called an incidental food permit, which allows for cooking/selling things like sandwiches but not much else. Elliot will go to town hall to find out more, but there seems to be little hope. The good news is that properties like this even exist in LA, amidst all the other horrible places they looked at.

Mark was staying at his brother Dave’s last night, while I bonded with Hana at her place (still no signs of Kyle), so we said goodnight – except THEN I found emails from my dad with recordings of the consult at the hospital, so I downloaded three files, listened to all of it, and learned that depending on how my mom does over the next couple of days, she may have to check into the hospital again. So then of course I tracked them down on the iSight, and got a hold of both of them – and thankfully, she was feeling (and looking) better! My dad and I both thought she should at least go back to the doctor on Saturday as scheduled for another scan, but…let’s just say it doesn’t look like she will. Which is good, I guess. This all got me to about 1:30am PT, meaning I’d been up for almost 24 hours, so it was time to finally crash, without reading Hana’s manga (shocking).

OK. Must post this now and sleep. To be continued….


Javier E. said...

Mom does look a lot better now, although very tired from spending the day at school... What's that picture doing in your blog again? You're going to scare your readers!!

BarbaraMisaki said...

god bless you and your family.
Sorry to hear for your loss.
I will be praying for you and your family.
Ganbatte Emiko! Your mom is with god and watching over you .
love Barbara