a week in review in los angeles

I’m so utterly behind in blogging that it’s sad. So here’s what happened this week, in a week’s worth of entries, most of which are LJ CUT’d because otherwise it would be a ridiculously long entry in your friends lists.

Last Saturday, I went to the Standard downtown.

The Standard is always kind of a gong show. I’ve been to both – the one in West Hollywood, and the one downtown. I like the one downtown better, because it’s more sophisticated. The one on the Strip is very much an Industry hotel, very Hollywood, very trendy and pretentious. Whereas the one downtown is pretentious in a faux-New York way, and more acceptable.

I also love going to the Standard downtown because it’s a rooftop bar in the middle of downtown Los Angeles. Growing up in a skyscraper-free zone gives me a fascination with all things rooftop. I loved the gym I went to in downtown Dallas, because it was just outside the core, and I could swim in the rooftop pool while looking at the skyline. And I adore standing at the edge of the Standard roof, looking out at the buildings of downtown L.A., and out past them to the Hills. It’s the sort of moment where I can say to myself, I am a long way from Victoria, from the island off the west coast of Canada I call home. The first time I went to that bar was the apogee of my Los Angeles experience, the night that I just couldn’t believe I was at these kind of places, these kind of parties, and so it always represents that idea, that I was able to move to L.A. and gain enough sophistication to live on that level of socializing. Which is, of course, meaningless, but a temporary self-indulgence.

Being girls, we never pay the $25 cover, either. Or, I should say, we’re connected girls. We always know someone staying at the hotel who can get us in. I wonder if any females ever pay that cover. Bad enough that the drinks are $10 for a call cocktail like my raspberry Stoli and soda. Worse that the place is really one of the worst meat markets in Los Angeles because it’s assumed that the men there have money. Many of them do, and the girls’ clothing choices reflect that. By the end of the night, the place is full of people pairing off and making out on the bed-like lounge chairs, and it detracts from any glamour that the place gains by being on a roof in downtown L.A.

I’ve also never gone there with a crew that failed to have drinks bought for all of us. Last time, one of our friends was hooking up with a guy and made him buy us all shots. This time, there was an older guy – in his 40s – hanging around, and some of the girls in our group of six apparently told him (in a drunken stupor) that they were from Texas. They weren’t – I was the only one to even live in the state – but hey, he seemed to like the Texas theory, and said he would buy all of us Texan girls a round of shots.

I figured he should get some entertainment for his $70 worth of alcohol, so I pulled my West Texas drawl out of the mothballs in the back of my brain, and told him he was a real gentleman. “Y’all’ve proven that there’s gentlemen out here in Los Angeles,” I said. “See, my friends back in Am’rilla? They think all y’all out here’re nothin’ but Yankees, not much better’n those New Yorkers.” He thought that was great. He also pulled out pictures of his wife and started telling us how wonderful she was, and how she was his best friend, and she’d’ve bought us a round because we were cool girls from Texas – but somehow, I doubt that much. At least he wasn’t trying to pick any of us up. We still knocked back those drinks and drifted away quickly.

And then the bar closed, and we all went home (although two of my friends had some interesting Greek characters try to lure them into the Standard coffee shop when we were in the lobby) and that was Saturday.

Last Sunday, we went to the party over at Lincoln Place, and then watched cartoons all night. I live in a nerd house, after all.

I spent Monday and Tuesday at home, because I was tired, but went out on Wednesday, for drinks with a guy I met on MySpace. That went well enough. I was surprised, because usually these MySpace things do not go well, and I always smack myself for agreeing to go on dates that are related to the Internet. Then again, when was the last time I was even on a date? January? Anyone remember?

Last night, I had a very expensive dinner at a nouvelle French restaurant, and then went from that to the Saddle Ranch on the Strip. This was, of course, after drinking since noon for Cinco de Mayo. Oh, and I had the house band play Tom Cochrane. That was nostalgic.

At noon on Thursday, the Agency hosted a Cinco de Mayo party for all employees. Catered Mexican lunch (which was shockingly excellent), and washtubs full of ice and beer. Immediately, everyone’s eating chips and drinking Coronas. I wasn’t. I had numbers to crunch. I waited until 4pm, when the Women’s Entertainment Network showed up with more alcohol – light beer, cheap champagne, and pre-mixed, overly sweet, mock Cosmopolitans (they forgot the triple sec).

Drinking was light though, because I had to leave at 5:30 to go to dinner. Coolsavings.com was hosting a “networking event” (read: meet the clients) at an expensive restaurant on the WeHo/Beverly Hills border. I changed into a dress and put on makeup half an hour before leaving, which was a mistake, because it led to twenty minutes of, “hey, did you change?” from my co-workers. Said dress is a sleeveless stretch black wool one, with a snug bodice and empire waist and very deep V at the front. It plays up some of my better assets – little waist and a lot of cleavage – and got the attention of the male co-workers who barely notice I’m a girl most of the time.

“Hey, Jillian, are you going on a date?” our search guy asked.
“No, just to dinner,” I said.
“Oh. You look like you’re going on a date.”

I put on lipstick and black satin slingbacks and my favorite oversized fake triple-strand pearl necklace ($8 in the Fashion District) and took off for dinner.

Dinner was, of course, wonderful. They even picked up the valet parking. Waiters circled with appetizers – asparagus mousse in spoons, smoked eel, chopped with mayonnaise, on crisp rounds, vegetable spring rolls. The open bar was top shelf, and the cute bartender poured me a Tanqueray Ten and tonic. I was one of the youngest people there, but was still treated with great respect by the hosts from Coolsavings, because I am a media planner from the Agency, and we’re a buying force to be reckoned with. Actually, we don’t spend enough to justify my attendance at that dinner – it must have been $150 a head, at least – but my sales rep at Coolsavings really likes me, and I know he had me invited.

What impressed me the most was the number of servers at the restaurant. They brought individual pieces of bread to each person, rather than setting out a basket. Drinks were refilled immediately – my wine and water levels were always the same. Dishes were set out and taken away as soon as one was done. The meal started with an amuse, which is French for “a bite of something complicated.” There were a lot of different forks and spoons. Again, like the Standard, it just wasn’t someplace I expected to be before I came to L.A. – even last year, I wouldn’t have imagined eating anyplace like that. The meal had a soup course, two small plate entrees (salmon and beef) and a dessert that was worth the resulting sugar sickness. It was fantastic.

After that, I wandered up to the Saddle Ranch. I was SUPPOSED to be at Chi, Justin Timberlake’s club, two doors down. I was on the list for the party there, the Film Festival Channel premiere party, but the friend who’d sent me the info had arrived first, proclaimed it terrible, and moved to the Saddle Ranch. Since I hadn’t been to the latter, I agreed to meet them there.

I’ve seen the Saddle Ranch on TV though. It’s featured in the episode of Sex and the City where they come to L.A. Miranda rides the mechanical bull. They also stay at the Standard West Hollywood, across the street. But the SR is just as unglamourous in reality as it was on TV – except for one thing. The house band. Two very talented guitar players who take requests.

I get called out on being Canadian a lot. It’s like being a country bumpkin, I suppose. So when the other people at my table told the guitarists that, they said they would play some Bryan Adams for me so I didn’t get homesick. I grinned and said, “you guys know any Tom Cochrane? Like that Life is a Highway song?” They did, and they played it, and they knew all the words! Even the bit about “from Khyber Pass to Vancouver’s lights.” It was hilarious, and nostalgic, and totally brought back Grade Ten, when that damn song was on the radio every five minutes. But more importantly, it was a piece of home, in the middle of the Sunset Strip, a Canadian song in Hollywood, for the Canadian girl in Los Angeles. And everyone else at my table knew the song and thoroughly enjoyed it.

After an hour at the SR (long enough for my girl roomate to finish her drink, because drinks come in carafes there), we did stop by Chi, just so I could see it. And we would have stayed to dance, had they had a dance floor, but there wasn’t one. Nor were there celebrities. I only care about celebrity sightings for the kitch value – it’s something to post about (like seeing Viggo Mortensen at a Rite Aid) – but without even that amusement, we headed home so I could get a meager ration of sleep before waking up at SIX THIRTY on Friday.

Today – now yesterday – I was up and down by LAX by 8am for an interview that had to do with that whole San Francisco tangent. It went well, or so I like to think. Or so I don’t like to think, because I really don’t want to leave L.A., now that I’ve got myself on medication that makes me energetic enough again to deal with the city.

I spent ten minutes after the interview just talking about Seattle and San Francisco with the guy I was meeting with, who was senior staff from the Seattle office in L.A. on business. It was enjoyable, and I still had just enough time to get home, ditch my severe black suit in favor of capri cargo pants, my sleeveless Diesel hoodie and a tie-dye bandana that I made at camp with my Brownies last year. And once I’d made myself back into the Venice Beach bike punk, I got to work to realize – now that I wasn’t running on adrenaline, I was actually hung over.

I wasn’t in as bad shape as the guy next to me though. He’d been out partying with the drummer from a pretty big 80s and 90s metal band. He was tired and evidently in pain. Fortunately, our boss is a huge fan of said band, and actually considers that a valid excuse to be half asleep at work. My office is so much like a sitcom some days it scares me.

Tomorrow, of course is Saturday – today, really.

I’m going to get a couple hours more sleep. Then I’m going to get up and go to spinning. Then there’s a fashion sample sale in Hollywood I want to hit. Then I have to get down to the Santa Monica promenade. Then I’m seeing Moby with my girl roomate. And then I’m supposed to catch up with friends at Room 5 to see someone’s friend’s band play (always the case). And Sunday I want to go to the Museum of the American West and then swing by Olvera Street for the Cinco de Mayo there, and then watch cartoons all night. And somewhere in all of this, I have to put in at least four to six hours at the office, because I have paperwork that dates back to the Bad Spell Last Fall that needs to be sorted out.

Of course, most of this won’t happen – but it’s nice to know I could have a very busy forty eight hours if I felt like it. Having a life is a very good thing, and being able to keep a social life going while taking time to pursue my own History Nerd interests (like the museum of the American West) It keeps me out of trouble, and I think, keeps me healthier.

And somewhere in all of this, I really have to clean house. nafspeak is due here in less than two weeks, and nothing gets me in gear quite like an impending houseguest.

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