Sunday, October 25, 2009

October 2009

Did you ever have one of those months when you were too busy to breathe, let alone post blog updates. That’s our October! Here’s a thumbnail review of what we’ve been up to . . .

Cosmic Conjunction (10/4): The season of giving started early this year with a benefit concert on the lawn outside the Griffith Observatory. Wolfgang Puck provided dinner (honey-stung chicken with heirloom tomato and peach salad, potatoes, a corn Madelin, and red velvet cake), while we listened to music selected and conducted by Arthur B. Rubinstein, best known for directing various movie and TV soundtracks. The highlight was a new composition, fittingly called “Observations,” narrated by Leonard Nimoy. Hearing Mr. Spock relate the story of the birth of the cosmos, under a glorious harvest moon, was complete heaven on earth!

Sports Museum (10/8): ESPN cosponsored a fundraiser at the Sports Museum of Los Angeles, so naturally we went even though we didn’t know much about the cause, Junior Achievement of Southern California, before entering the event. Turns out both the Junior Achievement, a volunteer-based organization that teaches kids financial literacy, and the Museum, a 32,000 square-foot facility that holds the largest private collection of sports memorabilia in the world, were fabulous. Plus we got to see basketball great Kareem Abdul Jabbar, who apparently just stopped by for a snack. He’s very tall! For more details, click here.

Cocktails at Union Station (10/10): One of Tim’s favorite food critics is Pulitzer Prize winner Jonathan Gold, columnist for the L.A. Weekly. We’re also big fans of Zócalo Public Square, a nonprofit that presents local lectures and screenings in an attempt to broaden civic discourse. Their programs are provocative and always free. To help support Zócalo, Jonathan Gold hosted a cocktail party fundraiser at Union Station, one of downtown L.A.’s most beautiful architectural landmarks. Catering the event were several of the city’s trendiest restaurants: Mozza, Cut, Church & State, Palate, Providence, The Gorbals, Comme Ça, and Rivera. Tim is more a beer man and I don’t drink alcohol at all, so the whole cocktail thing was lost on us. But we did pretty much get drunk on the food: pig burgers (yum!), bufala & alici salad, bacon-wrapped Matzo balls, tortilla florales, and butterscotch budino. Tim also tried the pork terrine with pickled shitake, clam fritters, tuna tartare, and steak tartare sliders—all of which are outside my particular (some would say “peculiar”) taste palate. The best part was sharing a small table with Kevin Roderick, author of two of our fave L.A. books, Wilshire Boulevard and The San Fernando Valley. We managed to talk to him quite normally without gushing like the two star-struck fans we were.

Hollyhock House (10/13): A few days later, we got the opportunity to attend a preview screening of Visual Acoustics, a new documentary about our architectural photography hero Julius Shulman. The movie was screened at Barnsdall Park in east Hollywood, site of Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Hollyhock House. Although both of us have lived in Los Angeles almost our entire lives, neither of us had ever toured the Hollyhock House, so we were thrilled to see the film as well as one of Wright’s most famous L.A. masterpieces—and all on the same night. Built of concrete, the house was magnificent, if a bit sterile (typical FLW). The doc was wonderful, too, and made us even sadder that Julius had just recently passed away.

Actors' Gang benefit (10/17): Though Tim had by now declared “no more fundraisers!,” even he couldn’t resist half-price tickets to a Sarah Silverman and Tenacious D concert benefiting the Actors' Gang, a Culver City-based theatrical group directed by Oscar-winner Tim Robbins. The event was held at the intimate Ivy Station, a former trolley stop that now houses a 99-seat theater. It was quite the scene. Not only were we on the older end of the demographic spectrum, we also didn’t wear black, which is apparently the hip color for young concertgoers. I may not have been cool, but at least I didn’t roast (like everyone else!) in my pink summer dress. Tenacious D was outrageous. Led by insane comedic actor Jack Black, the two-person group performed hysterical heavy metal parodies on acoustic guitars, while most of the audience sang along. I loved every minute.

Paul Shaffer (10/21): Pianist extraordinaire Paul Shaffer has lots of stories to tell. As the former bandleader on Saturday Night Live and David Letterman’s musical director for the past 27 years, he’s met and played with almost every rock and pop star alive today, plus a few who are no longer living. On Wednesday, he made a stop at the Grammy Museum to recount some of the stories found in his new book, We’ll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin’ Show-Biz Saga. We couldn’t resist seeing him. And lucky for us, too, because he was absolutely terrific—very funny and a brilliant raconteur. I can’t wait to read his book.

So that’s it so far. There are still five days left in October. Tim is hoping the Angels will make it into the World Series and I’ve got a big conference at the end of the week. But the really big news, which I’ll probably blog about next, is that, on top of everything else, we’re remodeling our garage! Stay tuned for news about the demolition later this week . . .