Good Coffee Houses a Dying Breed in L.A.

The Library in Long Beach
 Not much good came from the 90's. After Courtney murdered Kurt, record execs tried to replace Nirvana with a slew of bad grunge bands. The result? An army of flanneled losers who put the "r" sound where vowels should have been. It's true. Take any grunge song and sing the "r" sounds where the vowels go. Boom, you're Eddie Vedder. Or the dude from Soundgarden. Or Bush. Or whatever.

gorgeous wall stencils
There were three good things that came from the 90's though: Clueless, Friends and neighborhood coffee shops. I love coffee houses so much, I've blogged about the best of them in L.A.

But I stand corrected. The absolute best one by far is The Library in Long Beach. Exposed brick interiors, a grand piano, sunken velvet couches and worn Oriental rugs; it's like a Bohemian drawing room. But the menu - they provide endless types of mocha. I miss the old Mocha Valencias at Starbucks, but chocolate-orange is a flavor at the library. Almond Joy mochas, rare teas, gourmet food - even ice cream.

complete with a bad 90's painting

Normally I hate divulging my secret spots in Los Angeles. I don't want people picking at  rare discoveries at my hidden vintage stores. But with a Starbucks on every corner, these authentic hideaways are a dying breed. We need this authenticity before all of our streets are blanketed by mall stores. Keep The Library going; it will be a gift for yourself even more than it is for them. 

feels like New York


L.A. just got even harder for ugly people!

Historically, if you weren't good-looking enough to make it as an actor in this town, you could at least support yourself by waiting tables. Looks like that might be on the way out as well.  Because God forbid your canape gets served to you by someone who looks like they eat them. People who don't eat will be served by people who really don't eat, and all the ugly people will either have to take up janitor work or get out of Dodge. 

Or, how about this? I propose that people get cast for realistic roles. If we see hideous-looking people on the freeways, in the gym and the store, why aren't these people be represented in film, where actors are on freeways, at the gym and in the store? On TV, every middle-aged dolt is somehow married to a supermodel MENSA member twenty years their junior, and no one says anything. In film, everyone in the produce section of the grocery store is a girl in a half shirt squeezing melons. I don't know about you, but the last time I was in grocery store, a homeless guy was changing clothes in the bathroom. 

So let the hotties take over food service. But only on the condition that the less-attractive folk get re-integrated on screen. We must remember actors aren't models, and shouldn't be held to those standards. They are but people hired to play all sectors of the population. Tired moms, tubby alcoholics, greasy pizza shop owners, etc. That way, the less attractive will get their fair shot, and runway types will be forced to come face to face with food.


Rocky Peak Park - still a little creepy!

I'll admit that I already have it in for the Simi Valley. It was home base for the Manson Family and home to the now-closed and crumbling Bottle Village. Not to mention the site of deadly floods and the first significant nuclear accident in the USA, in 1959. Perhaps the leftover radiation fried the brains of the jurors at the Rodney King trial, who, while in Simi Valley, mysteriously chose to let the cops walk free, inciting the L.A. riots. But I'm an open-minded girl, and heard that Rocky Peak Park was a great hike. I've always been fascinated by the smooth boulders hovering on hilltops, if only for my fear that they'd tumble down smash me to pieces.  
Stonehenge-like formation
The hike was beautiful, if not a little creepy. Signs warned us that it was wild cat country, so running into a mountain lion, puma or bobcat would not be unexpected. The hills were strewn with caves, which our dogs sought out for the scent of other animals, and for shade. As we approached each cave, we held our breath, hoping not to disturb a mountain lion. The rocks themselves seemed like alien objects, smooth and jutting against an otherwise sandy and rugged landscape. Some rocks seemed to almost stand upright in a circle, like Stonehenge.

cool in the shade
It seems that no activity in the Simi Valley is without some strain of creepiness. Perhaps that's why I keep returning, instead of writing it off as just another boring bedroom suburb.

view of the city grid below
sniffing out coyotes and mountain lions
Bobby and the butler


All the Hebrew You Need to Know You will Learn in Hollywood

Above, the O.G.s

Save for the words klutz and putz (two words I have long been familiar with due to my...disposition) all the Hebrew I learned, I've learned in Hollywood.

When casting directors are looking for a girl with chutzpah (oomph, sass) one needs to know what that means, else lose the part due to ignorance. Besides, peppering your language with Yiddish is one way to get in with them. In a town where people have forcing themselves into Scientology (now passe) and Kabbalah (also passe) in order to rub elbows with those doling out film roles, it wouldn't hurt to brush up.

Reading below is as valuable as training with a great acting coach, without dropping $200 a class:

Rear end, bottom, backside, buttocks. In proper Yiddish, it’s spelled tuchis or tuches or tokhis, and was the origin of the American slang word tush.

Female busybody or gossip

Something you’re known for doing, an entertainer’s routine, an actor’s bit, stage business; a gimmick often done to draw attention to yourself

A non-Jewish woman, all too often used derogatorily. It has the connotation of “young and beautiful,” so referring to a man’s Gentile wife or girlfriend as a shiksa implies that his primary attraction was her good looks. She is possibly blonde.

A long, involved sales pitch, as in, “I had to listen to his whole spiel before I found out what he really wanted.” From the German word for play.

Mazel Tov
Or mazltof. Literally “good luck,” (well, literally, “good constellation”)

Often used as an insulting word for a self-made fool, but you shouldn’t use it in polite company at all, since it refers to male anatomy.

Chat, make small talk, converse about nothing in particular. But at Hollywood parties, guests often schmooze with people they want to impress.

A non-Jew, a Gentile. As in Hebrew, one Gentile is a goy, many Gentiles are goyim, the non-Jewish world in general is “the goyim.”

A clumsy, inept person, similar to a klutz (also a Yiddish word). The kind of person who always spills his soup.

Or nash. To nibble; a light snack


Good things CAN come from cheesy romantic comedies

chocolate souffle
Years ago, I watched the movie Valentine's Day. I remember three things distinctly:

1) Hating myself for enjoying an Ashton Kutcher movie
2) Hating myself for financially contributing to the box office for an Ashton Kutcher movie
3) Wondering what lovely restaurant was featured in the scene where Jennifer Garner confronts her cheating boyfriend

pianist for the older, moneyed crowd
Blame it on my love affair with New Orleans, but I'm a sucker for indoor trees and high ceilings. These ballroom-type establishments remind me of a grandeur that has long since passed. It's Southern and English all at once. The Bistro Garden in Studio City is simply lovely. It had all the trimmings; a live piano player, champagne flowing like water and a distinguished waitstaff in suits. These people make the staff at Downton Abbey look like Flo from Mel's Diner.

This place screams Eggs Benedict
The crowd here is older, moneyed and content. They have families and they all brunch together. Girlfriends host showers here, men meet for martinis after rounds of golf. Here you will not find hispters, malcontent twenty-somethings on their Smartphones or models who like to DJ on the side. What this place has, is class.

a nosh