Sunday, November 30, 2008

Going shopping? Take the Ferrari.

I can't really imagine ever owning a Ferrari, but I've fantasized about driving one. However my driving fantasies don't include driving to the Ralph's on Foothill. I suppose if you own a Ferrari you can take it wherever you want, but I think I'd probably use the Porsche Cayenne for shopping... or maybe the Land Rover, just in case there was a flash flood and I needed to ford an arroyo...

I love going to the movies

Last night my family and I went to The Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood to see West Side Story. It was projected from a beautiful new 70mm print on a huge screen in one of the last of the great movie palaces. The music sounded amazing, the design and cinematography and lighting and editing are phenomenal - and the print was so good that you could pick out spots where the focus wasn't quite right or the lighting was a bit off. I love the dancing in this movie, and I love Natalie Wood.

My son the critic pointed out that some of the acting was rather wooden, and he's right. The movie doesn't really have the emotional impact that it ought to, because it just doesn't seem believable, at least watching it today. And there's a few changed lyrics that really gall me, that apparently were nods to the censors in 1961. I grew up with the LP of the stage play, and for me, that's the gold standard, but the movie is a wonderful experience. Seeing it in a big theatre full of fans, listening to their reactions, watching the dancers looming 30 feet high, there's nothing like it.

It's popular to dis movies - too expensive, audiences are rude, movies are lousy - all true, if you go to the local cineplex on a Friday night and watch most of the junk coming out of Hollywood today. Relatively recently I got a DVR and a high-def TV and for most movies that's a perfectly adequate way to watch them if they are worth watching at all. But I love the epic movie on the big screen - and I love the really good "small" movie, in the dark with others.

And I usually love the crowds in Hollywood and Burbank and Glendale. You're often sitting with members of the Hollywood working class, the gaffers and the transportation captains and the animators and the studio musicians and the special effects programmers, who sit 3 or 4 minutes into the credits so they can applaud their buddies. If the movie is good, or even decent, they sit in rapt attention. With the right movie and the right conditions, there's still something magic there.

I can't wait to see Australia. In a theater.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Where I live

If you met me and asked me where I live, I probably wouldn't tell you that I live in Verdugo City.

If someone from, say, Barcelona, or Baton Rouge, or Cleveland asks me where I live, I'll probably say Los Angeles. And indeed, I live in Los Angeles County, and just about 14 miles from the center of the City of Los Angeles - there are lots of people who live in the Los Angeles city limits who are farther from the center than that.

If you live around L.A., I might say I'm from Glendale, which is my mailing address and the city that I live in. Glendale is one of the larger cities in L.A. County, and most people around here have a vague idea where it is, although most have never had a reason to come here so they are not really sure. "Is Glendale in the valley?" they ask? Well, it sort of it... it lies right between the San Gabriel Valley and the San Fernando Valley and just above Dodger Stadium.

But the part of Glendale that I live in is about 5 miles from the part of Glendale that people know if they know Glendale. So for people who know the area, I tell them I'm just west of Montrose. Montrose is known mostly for its old-fashioned shopping district, with a few sort-of-trendy restaurants that draw people from the surrounding area.

The neighborhood I live in is just a block from the crossroads of Honolulu Ave and La Crescenta Ave, and back in the 1930's some optimistic real estate developer (is there any other kind?) decided that this land should bear the name Verdugo City. We're at the base of the Verdugo Mountains, on the old Verdugo Spanish land grant. But there never was a city here, just the quiet, pleasant, and semi-rural suburb in which I live. Nonetheless, the California Department of Transportation recognizes Verdugo City, and there's a post office and a zip code (but no houses bearing that zip code, just post office boxes).

I would say that you can't find Verdugo City on a map, but of course if you type it into Google Maps it will point you right at the intersection of Honolulu and La Crescenta.

So I live in Verdugo City and I figure I'll be here for a while. It's a good place to live.