"I mean, take advantage of the sunshine before the fog comes back."
--Eugene O'Neill, Long Day's Journey Into Night
When Brian informs me that Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliot was scheduled to perform on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Thursday the 5th I decide that it was worth it, and to work it, to put my thang down, flip it and reverse it. I don't what it is about Missy but the last time we were in Hollywood Brian ripped down a poster off a telephone pole in front of the Comedy Store at 1:00 in the morning that was advertising her new album. Ah, the beauty of the two drink minimum. That thing stayed in the back of my car for weeks before ending up in my garage for a few more weeks. But I digress. Brian put a call into his connection at the Jimmy Kimmel show and, voila, we're in like Flynn. The only question then was when do we make our way down for the 9 p.m. show. Appparently Brian was thinking what I was thinking: Personal Day! Seeing as we both had all the time in the world this was destined to be a long day's journey into night.
After watching some Spike Jonez-directed videos while Brian took care of some household business we hopped in the Hybrid and began the day. Brian pointed the way without giving a hint to the destination. After a few minutes we arrived at (drum roll, please)... Wally World! Check that - it was actually Santa Anita Racetrack. Brian knows I don't gamble so I'm wondering what the deal was. As it turned out the track opens up at 5 a.m. for morning workouts. To get into the swing of things we put on our best horse faces and headed in. It was pretty cool being so close to multi-million dollar investments. Brian even took a moment to gaze out from the famous grandstands . Besides the horses there were a number of interesting sights. I mean, where else are you going to find a 5 foot tall dude in leather chaps? I also spotted Bill Baffert hanging out enjoying his morning cup o' joe. With over $80 million in career purses I was tempted to saunter on over and ask for a tip on the 4th race. Of course I remembered two things: I don't gamble and a guy with his resume would probably have his jockeys kick my ass for bothering him (and before you call me a pussy for being afraid of such diminutive fellows keep in mind that they are world-class athletes). As we were sitting down taking it all in a freakin' one-legged bird
perched right next us! Quothe the sparrow, "WTF?" Upon closer inspection we realized we weren't crazy. The place also has some sweet topiary . After tiring of mingling with the general public we decided to find the "secret" tunnel that takes one to the inner sanctum of the racetrack. Once on the other side I was even closer to the action. This guy evidently didn't appreciate the paparazzi treatment because he shot me a dirty look as I snapped away. As we wandered about I still don't know what Brian was doing here and I'm still not going to ask. A few minutes later I was witness to a very sad man. A final look at the tools of the trade.
It was around 9:30 and we decided to head down to Disneyland and California Adventure. Seeing as he had a season pass Brian said he would go halves with me. Disney has this deal where if you buy a ticket to one park you get a free pass to the other for another day. So down the 605 we go when Mia calls, informing me that she has two free passes to Mickey's place that we can have. So I make like Sulu with the Klingons on his ass and employ evasive manuevers, cutting across three lanes in order to transition onto the 10 West that I have just about passed. It's all good.
We still hadn't had breakfast so we figured something light and healthy: El Tepeyac! One problem: we don't exactly know where it is other than East L.A. So Brian calls Mike Tellez who is teaching his class like a good little slave to the grind. Mike tells Brian to exit on Soto , turn left, go back across the freeway, turn left at the bottom of the hill (either the first or second light, he says) go down a few blocks, turn right and it's across from a church. Damn. Do you know how many churches there are in East L.A.? After driving around for a while and seeing the strangest businesses together we became convinced that Mike will never get a job working for Rand McNally. Brian finally called his wife who provided directions with such oddities as street names and address numbers. But seriously, Mike, thanks for trying. Really. When we pull into the parking lot I immediately saw that we were in the barrio. The place is filled up so while we're waiting for a table Brian notices a guy seated at the counter eating a gianormous (thanks Wendy) burrito called the Hollenbeck. The guy explains that it has beef, rice, beans, and guacamole. Muy delicioso! When we are seated I order the Hollenbeck and Brian orders... bacon and eggs. WTF?! After coming up with the idea to go to El Tepeyac in the middle of East L.A., calling people in an attempt to find the place, and then querying some stranger about the food he was enjoying thus leading me to order it he orders bacon and eggs? After shaming him with my incredulous look he changed to chorizo and eggs . While waiting for our food I told Brian I would pay for breakfast if he ate a spoonful of each of the salsas on our table. This would have been funny for two reasons: 1) Brian likes to say that ketchup is too spicy for him and 2) I was already going to pay for breakfast. Fortunately for the both of us he tasted a small sample of the red salsa first. Fortunate for him because he would have destroyed his stomach and fortunate for me because I would have been the one rushing him to hospital, all the way desperately hoping he doesn't spew all over the Hybrid. After we gamely plowed through the heaping meal we headed out, toothpicks in mouth. We took a last look at the church across the street and the adjacent lot and realized this was one strict place. Even the preacher got punked at this particular house of God. I guess I missed the 11th commandment: Thou shall not park here!
Having eaten far too much we head for Mia's work in Glendale, get the tickets and start driving again (after having used the Warner Brothers facilities to relieve myself of the curse of the Hollenbeck). By this time it's 12:30 and we are much closer to Hollywood (Jimmy Kimmel) than Anaheim (Disneyland) and it's starting to warm up. Brian suggests trying sneak into Universal Studios
. So even though Mia will be bitter that she gave up the passes for naught we have a destiny to follow. When we got to Universal City it was quickly evident that because of the many precautions against terrorism we had no chance. So we headed to Hollywood.
As we are driving around the Hollywood Hills Brian tells me a story about how, years ago, he and a friend tried to drive up to the Hollywood Sign and triggered sensors that brought out police helicopter and several black and whites. Well, that's all I needed to hear so we headed toward the sign as if the Hybrid had it's own Romulan cloaking device (uh oh, two Star Trek references in one story. The geek alarm is going off.). As I navigate upward and onward we hit a dirt road and I'm thinking this is it. As we come around a bend I see a sign, though it ain't 50 foot high letters spelling out Hollywood. That sonuvabitch took me to the muthafuckin' Sunset Horse Ranch! I forgot to mention that Brian was attempting to talk me into going horseback riding as we drove past Griffith Park earlier. I was, like, no way, no how. Damn. He suckered me but good. I know we were going to be horsing around today but... (sorry, I had to say it.). So I'm reading the rules and trying to figure out how the hell I'm going to get out this when Brian points out two more signs that do not make me feel any more comfortable: sign 1 and sign 2. Yeah, suffice it to say I'm not feeling all warm and fuzzy at this moment. Then I meet Dutch, the dude who prepares our horses. I overhear him quietly singing to himself, "I'm a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride." Was this dude actually singing "Wanted Dead or Alive" by Bon Freakin' Jovi? Yep, it was one of those days. Since this is my first time on a horse Dutch picks out a tame one, Crystal. John Wayne, eat your heart out. I suggest to Dutch that since Brian has not only ridden before but that he also suckered me, he should be given Diablo. Dutch yells to Buck (our guide as it turned out) to bring out Killer. Brian didn't like the sound of that. Brian actually was given Rio (yes, I did serenade him with a little Duran Duran on the ride). Once in the saddle (I never thought I would ever use that phrase literally) Dutch instructed me on the rudiments of horseback riding. Just as my confidence was beginning to build I noticed another of those damn signs. While Brian was enjoying my discomfort I felt a little better when he reminded me that where there were horses there were horseflies. Now I don't know what it is about us and blondes that come to Hollywood to become stars (see Mariah Wolfe) but we ran into another one. Laura came to Hollywood from New York back in June and is so frustrated by her inability to get acting work that she is contemplating becoming a preschool teacher. If that wasn't bad enough she looked like a tard with that bike helmet on. Back to the trail. As this was my first horse ride I whipped out the digicam and tried to take some shots. Many came out blurry because Crystal didn't care enough to provide a smooth ride. Here's my posse (yes, I'm leading the charge). Along the way Buck points out that it was in this area that the Batcave from the 60's Batman was situated. Holy Hollywood trivia! At the midway point Buck offered to take a picture of our group, and must say I enjoyed the horse ears in the foreground. I guess this is why there are no famous cowboy photographers. On the way back Brian made like Toby Maguire in Sea Biscuit, which gave me the opportunity to try to sneak up behind him and slap Rio in the ass (I was, sadly, unsuccessful). I later discovered that Brian had been attempting the same to my horse, which was why he ended up going past me in the first place. As we neared the end I finally got a close-up look at my intended destination. Yeah, thanks for nothing.
Now it was time to go where the wind blew us. We ended up at Jumbo's Clown Room where the wind ain't the only thing that blows you. Apparently this where strippers go when nobody else will hire them. Courtney Love got her start and David Lynch wrote most of his scripts here. Now you get the picture. Probably the saddest sight of the day was the old man who rode up on his bike during the 45 seconds we were sitting there and tried both doors to the place and, finding them locked, proceeded to knock insistently until someone finally answered. Dude, Courtney doesn't work here any more.
As we continued on I was strangely drawn to a motley-colored building on Hollywood and Western. Brian was strangely drawn to the giant hotdog on the front of a fastfood Thai joint. Yes, when worlds collide.
From there we went all the way to West Hollywood to make a visit to Aahs! to buy another Shocking Roulette (the first one broke after only a few days of fun). I snuck up on Brian perusing the Strawberry Shortcake section, for his "daughter" he says. Right, dude. On any given day just ask him to show his undershirt and you just might find something he bought for this "daughter." I'm not judging, you see, I'm just saying....
Across from Aahs! is the Whiskey A Go Go. Imagine the bloody eardrums after listening to a band named Intestinal Strangulation in the intimate confines of the Whiskey. Welcome to the world of tinnitus.
A couple of places down was the Hustler store so we meandered on over to see if anything would pop up (see, 'cause Hustler is an adult magazine with boobs and stuff and I said "pop up." Man, I slay me. I should be performing at the Comedy Store.). OK, I admit it. We really just went to get something to drink but don't think I wasn't tempted by the Minty Nipple. While I enjoyed my drink we took the time to break out the Shocking Roulette and started zapping the crap out ourselves. Sho' nuf' the employees were strangely drawn to our foolish spectacle and before you can say Dr. Marvin Monroe every hole was being used (see, 'cause we're still in the Hustler store and I said "hole." En fuego, baby!). I don't know whether it was the environment or the constant electric streams but I felt like a changed man. (Um, I mean, this is normal.)
Even though it's almost 4 p.m. that damn Hollenbeck is still with me but we still decide to get a snack. Destination: Pink's, the World's Best Hotdogs (according to the website). Instead of fighting for parking the lucky bastards that we are find a suhweeeet spot just down the street. If you think that's lucky hold onto your hat: the meter's broken! Put your quarters away because today it's free parking, baby! Who needs the gods? Not Brian and Eric, by Jove. Mmmm, chili dogs. Or something a bit more daring, maybe? No, the old standby will do. After munching we head back for the Hybrid when Brian notices the car is parked alone. In L.A. this can only mean trouble. At that moment we see the parking patrol around the corner so we make a mad dash, easily beating the poor saps. Suddenly I recall the myth of Odysseus who, after helping destroy the city of Troy with the use of the Trojan Horse (yes, another horse reference), proceeded to tell Poseidon the gods were unnecessary in mankind's realm. That was stupid. It would take Odysseus 10 more years to reach his home after his show of hubris. I think you see where I'm going with this. Fack! While I was busy cursing my newly-ticketed fate Brian was opening the envelope. Yep, apparently my hubris was good enough for two gods to stick it to me. Whatever.
We headed back to Hollywood and Highland to kill some time before Jimmy Kimmel. In the lobby Brian was representin' the SGV (that's San Gabriel Valley, yo), getting ready to serve any punk-ass fools who get brave. Then Brian showed his dramatic side. Once on the Walk of Fame I found proof that Armageddon is mere days away. A little ways down we came across two disturbing sights: a black mime (Brian wondered if the "whiteface" wasn't reverse racism) and Spiderman squatting on a trashcan for a photo op, then rubbing his fingers together while calling out in a raspy voice, "Tips. Tips." Welcome to Tinseltown.
We continued down the Boulevard and, keeping our options open for the night, stopped at the Knitting Factory to see what bands were playing. We came across one guy who we thought Diane Bladen might like to see.
Back on the street Brian took some time to play hide-n-go-seek with Charlie Chaplin. Across the street was the Roosevelt Hotel which has easy access to its pool (this was taken at dusk so I had to lighten the photo, making it look like daytime). We actually brought along trunks and towels in case we had enough time to take a swim but it was not to be. Brian did, though, show how simple it was to master the technique of synchronized swimming. On our way out Brian, in continuing the day's horse motif, played Yipee-ki-yay in the Roosevelt lobby.
Emboldened from having a free run of the Roosevelt we decided to try the Renaissance Hotel in the Hollywood & Highland complex. With surprising ease we made our way to the pool on the fifth floor where Brian is lucky we are true friends; anyone else would have run over and pushed his too-trusting fool-ass into the water.
On the corner of Hollywood & Highland I think I found my true calling: America's Next Top Model. Eat your heart out Tyra.
6 p.m. and I was ready for a snack: a dark-chocolate chip caramel apple. Sweeeet. Literally. The only thing better than chocolate? NIPPLES! Sweeeet. Figuratively. Unless they have chocolate on them. Then literally.
At this point we looked across the street and noticed the line forming for the Jimmy Kimmel show. We both agreed that we were not in the mood to stand in a line for another hour and a half so we decided to head towards home. We had both wanted to see The Triplets of Belleville so we decided to catch a 9 p.m. showing at the Rialto in South Pasadena. Since we has a couple of hours to kill Brian suggested we go to the the Ice House to enjoy some laughs. Earlier Brian attempted to withdraw some cash from an ATM in the Kodak Theatre lobby but the machine failed to respond. Now in Pasadena Brian was still cashless so we went to the Bank of America on the corner of Colorado & Lake. This particular branch has drive-thru ATMs that are quite narrow in order to accommodate three separate driveways. I pulled the Hybrid up close enough to reach the keypad and got the money for Brian. Now for the problem: the exit in front of me led to a one-way street that went south, while I wanted to go north. Instead of having to go around the block I decided to back up. Of course because I had pulled the car so close I nearly hit the protective cement poles around the ATM. No, that's not the problem. In a stroke of cleverness I slowly pulled forward into the street and made a sharp U-turn and went back through the drive-thru. Sucess, right? Well... in my moment of glory I once again forgot to thank the gods for this inspired genius, instead choosing to gun it (a relative term, of course, in a Civic Hybrid) and yell out the obligatory "Woo-hoo!" ala Blur's "Song #2." As we flew past the ATM there was a sickening "BANG" or "CRUNCH" or "SMASH." Whatever Adam West/Batman onomatopoeic description you choose, I nailed one of those the fucking aforementioned poles. Damn my hubris. I pull over and look over at Brian who has that "I can't believe it's not butter" look multiplied by a hundred and we both burst out in hysterical laughter at my pure idiocy. By the sound of it I was surprised my car was even still running. When I finally got up the nerve to check out the damage all I found was a slightly dangling mirror and a paint chip on the back. Not too shabby considering that upon further inspection I realized that the mirror had simply popped out of a ball joint and I simply pushed it back into place. With a little touch-up paint the bad boy will look like it just rolled off the assembly line. To add insult to injury, though, when we finally arrived at the Ice House we found that a trio of housewives called "The Three Moms" was performing that night. This is what all the trouble was for? No thank you.
We decided to eat at Twoey's in South Pasadena and were seated in a booth with a view of a set of the freakiest dolls hanging on the wall. We actually asked a couple of older ladies seated in the booth directly under the dolls to move for a moment so we could get a picture.
After food we headed to the Rialto and parked. With a few minutes still to spare we went to Blockbuster just to browse. This is when I was reminded that America is so rich that its citizens can afford to discard a perfect pair of sneakers in a parking lot. USA! USA!
As we awaited the start of the flick (that, by the way, was not only in French but had so little dialogue there would be no reason for subtitles) Brian's look assured me that not only did we "take advantage of the sunshine," but we did a pretty good job with the moonlight as well.