Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Morning in Venice

I spent the morning in Venice with my friend, Ryan.

Normally, I would have spent my time trying to take pictures of the general lunacy

the homeless kids
the manequins with large breasts
the skateboarding dogs
the happy potheads
the clueless tourists
the bohemian artwork ...

But I decided to take it easy and just store the images in my memory bank.

I couldn't resist this photo op though.

Yeah, not very convincing, I know.
I'm a little too suburban looking. Next time, I'll have to wear granny glasses, some dreds and a ripped t-shirt.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Movie and TV houses in Los Angeles

Stalking celebrities can be very difficult. They disguise themselves with big sunglasses, they move from place to place and they tend to run away when you yell and point and say things like "Oh my God, it's her! It's her!" Or him, as the case may be.

Since chasing celebrities is obviously fraught with difficulties, I decided to do the next best thing; stalk celebrity houses. These things can't move and don't get embarrassed and are fairly plentiful in L.A. so I decided to make an afternoon out of it.

I had to coerce Patrick to be a navigator. And Dusty came along too, mostly because I thought he would poop and pee in the apartment if left alone too long.

First stop was the apartment where Andy Stitzer, The 40 Year Old Virgin, lived. The address is 12012 Moorpark in Studio City which is right down the road from where I live. I could pay homage to his apartment every day.

Steve Carell used to live in Studio City and he still may. He went to the same gym as I did but sadly we never became work-out buddies. Or friends. Or even passing acquaintances. He never acknowledged my open-mouth stares but I suppose he has a lot of things on his mind.

Without leaving Studio City, we found the famous house at 11222 Dilling Street. For fans of early 70s tv, you should recognize it as the abode of the Brady Bunch.

This house looks a lot like it did back in the day. The subsequent owners of the house put up a fence because there were apparently many overzealous tourists who had no problem with marching up to the windows and peeking inside.

I'm not sure what they expected to see. Marcia Brady getting undressed?

The next stop was still in Studio City and the address was 12334 Cantura Street. This house was very nondescript. It was in a very pleasant neighborhood but if you passed by it, I'm pretty sure you would not have guessed its tv history.

Who lived in this house? The Wilkersons. You say, who the hell were they?

The family of Malcolm in the Middle.

Yep, they lived in this 1400 square foot house just off of Ventura Boulevard. Or at least, they were supposed to live there.

From one article I read, the doctor who really lived there made $100,000 from letting the producers use the facade of his house.

If any producers are reading this, I would be more than happy to loan out my entire apartment for half that price. You could also hire me at union prices. Dusty could be thrown in there for free. No charge! A freebie is unheard of in the movie and tv business but this is a limited time offer because I have no idea how long he is going to live. He is 16 and a half for cripes sakes.

Finding the next house was definitely more of a challenge. The address is 776 Torreyson Drive in West Hollywood, but it is tucked deep into the Hollywood Hills.

This is the Chemosphere, otherwise known as the Spaceship house, and was seen in the first Charlie's Angels movie. It was built in 1960 by John Lautner back in the day when we were a little obsessed with what the future would look like.

It's difficult to see from my picture, but the octagon shaped house is built upon a large pedestal. I have no idea how this house has survived earthquakes but apparently it has.

Next up was the house from Happy Days. You probably thought that the Cunninghams lived in Wisconsin but they actually lived (sort of) in a house on Cahuenga Avenue in Los Angeles.

It's a very attractive, very large house. It is found in a small subdivision just near Melrose Avenue. We thought we weren't going to find it because this area is surrounded by very non-midwestern urban commercialism but we turned down a street and there it was.

The most unusual house on the tour was The Witch's House located at 516 North Walden Drive in Beverly Hills. There isn't a lot of question why this house is so named; it looks like something out of a Brother's Grimm fairy tale.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) the current owners are renovating it so most of it was obscured by an ugly green fence. I'm not sure how such an eyesore could be allowed in the 90210 area code. The owners must be VERY important or something.

This house was built in 1921 and was used in some silent films as well as the much more recent Clueless.

And finally, we took a somewhat scary trip though the bowels of Los Angeles to find my favorite house on the tour, the house from the tv show, Charmed.

Truthfully, I have not watched a single episode of Charmed. Apparently it is about three sisters who kick some evil ass and although this does sound entertaining, I much prefer The Office these days.

This beautiful Victorian abode is located at 1329 Carroll Avenue. It is on the same street as many other graceful Victorian houses and the whole area has become a historic district. Most people come to gawk at the Charmed house but it is worth a short walk down the street to admire the architecture of the others.

After four hours it was time to head home. We didn't make it to the Poltergeist house (one of my fav horror movies) but that one is located much further away in Simi Valley.

Maybe next time.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Underwear Affair

The following post is from my good friends Brandi and Mike whom I met while I was living in Las Vegas.

They have since moved to Vancouver and will be running in The Underwear Affair to raise money for cancers "below the belt."

This is a great cause and I hope that you can support them with any size of donation. And don't they deserve SOMETHING for being brave enough to run in their underwear!!

Thank you,

Dr. Phil

Hello Blogosphere! I don’t have a blog of my own, but Dr. Phil was kind enough to let me borrow his for this important announcement. Namely, the big local newspapers in Vegas are really missing out on a hot story. What with foreclosures, casino losses and entirely too much violence, Las Vegas needs some happy news. That’s why (aside from own selfish reasons) I stepped in and sent the following press release, which I don’t expect to be acknowledged.

That’s entirely too bad, because I’m sure the readers of those esteemed papers would love to send me money, I mean read about some former Las Vegas residents’ exciting new adventures in Canada! Please give it a read through, and if you have great ideas for fundraising or would like to send a donation, feel free to contact me at jopiquant@yahoo.com. 26 days to go!

ps – donors of $25 or more who have donated as a result of this blog post will receive an autographed photo as mentioned in the press release. Also, US residents will be donating in Canadian dollars, so you get a wee discount due to the exchange rate. Bonus!


Former Las Vegans “on the Run” in Canada

Vancouver, BC, Canada – June 12, 2009 – While they moved to the Vancouver area nearly two years ago, the lights of Las Vegas still warm the hearts of former Las Vegas residents and UNLV alumni Brandi Harrington and Mike Toscano.

It’s a good thing their hearts will be warm because they’ll be running in their underwear next month. “Vegas, Baby!” is the name and theme of their team for the Underwear Affair 10k race taking place in July 2009.

The race raises funds for research for cancers below the waist, such as cervical and colon cancer. All participants pledge to raise at least $300 for this great cause that doesn’t always get as much attention as others. The Underwear Affair really tries to eliminate some of the stigma by bringing it right out in the open.

Runners wear all manner of crazy costumes, on a variety of themes. “When we were thinking about a team for a hot summer run in the barest of essentials, we naturally thought of Vegas,” says Brandi. With one month until the race, fundraising is officially open.

Hometown support of $10 or more would be gratefully appreciated. Donors of $50 or more who send their address will receive an “autographed” photo of the team in their race gear. “Vegas, Baby!” promises to do Las Vegas proud on July 11, 2009.

Brandi Harrington
Vegas Baby!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

F*%@#ing summer reading

Call me a sucker for good advertising but when I came across the book “Drink, Play, F@#ck” by Andrew Gottlieb, I didn’t even flip through it before I headed over to the cash register and plunked down my money. With a title like that, I figured I was in for some juicy vicarious living.

“Drink, Play, F@#k: One Man’s Search for Anything across Ireland, Vegas, and Thailand” is the obvious guy’s answer to the bestselling chick-lit book “Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia” written by Elizabeth Gilbert. I haven’t read the latter book. Maybe I’ll pick it up sometime but not from a bookstore. I would be too embarrassed to hand the book over to the clerk. I guess I could say I was buying it for my girlfriend or my mother but I’m not a good liar and I get embarrassed far too easily. I’ll spare myself the humiliation and buy online—if ever I feel the need to get in touch with my inner touchy-feely feminine self.

But I felt very comfortable slapping down “Drink, Play, F@#ck” on the counter. I felt like I was ordering a Bud in a dive bar and I couldn’t wait to get home to read it.

Andrew Gottlieb is a good writer. His prose flowed easily and I managed to get through all 195 pages without losing interest or regretting my $12.95 purchase. What I did find bothersome is that the book didn’t deliver on its promise of a wild ride. With drinking in Ireland, I expected his protag to get so drunk, he got his jaw dislocated in a bar fight. With playing in Vegas, I expected him to lose so much money, he was begging for quarters on Fremont Street. And in the Thailand, there is really no excuse for not writing about an “accidental” encounter with a transsexual hooker.

Instead, the main character did some drinking, and a little playing and in the worst missed opportunity ever, he dove off a boat in Thailand where an orgy was just about to happen. Ho-hum. What kind of guy-gone-wild tale was this? The guy was supposed to be getting a life and instead he was running away from the flame? I felt like I had been promised a tale of male debauchery and instead I got a watered down slideshow of a year long vacation that could almost be described as “pleasant.”

At the end of the book, the guy does find happiness. Of course. In fact, he even gives a list of things that make him happy which includes, “Picking an apple of a tree, eating it in about five bites, and throwing the core at the base of the tree.”

Oh brother.

I had to check the title of the book again because for a second there, I thought I had just picked up a copy of “Eat, Pray, Love.” If I had written it, I would have had the guy being chased by five Vegas hookers with gonorrhea who were demanding paternity lawsuits, but hey, we all have our fantasies that we want to write about.

ON THE FLIP SIDE, I recently finished the autobiography of Russell Brand called “My Booky Wook.” Whereas “Drink, Play, F@#k” is a completely fabricated tale, “My Booky Wook” spills the guts of the author like an autopsy on a rotten cadaver. Russell Brand is the real deal that lives up to his hype and after finishing his book, I wanted to stand up and cheer like I always want to do after a good movie (except that I don’t).

I first heard about Russell Brand (like a lot of other Americans) while watching “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, Jason Segel’s comedy in which he plays the rocknrolla Aldous Snow. Russell was pretty funny in this movie although it was hard to watch most of it after being blinded by Jason Segel’s penis. I picked up this autobiography for much the same reason I picked up “Drink, Play, F@#k”--I was lured in by the title which promised a memoir of “sex, drugs and stand-up.” This time, I was not disappointed.

Russell Brand has lead a life of scary, epic proportions. Being fearless and addicted to drugs and sex, you are bound to have a lot of stories to share and my lordy jesus, he has filled the basket to the brim. Taking a bath naked with a homeless man, sticking a Barbie doll up your arse while onstage and dressing up like the Osama bin Laden the day after 911 may not make you a likeable person but it can certainly make you a funny one. (Okay, okay, in a strange and sick way.) Not only is his book consistently hilarious, it s unabashed in its honesty and for that, I give it full marks. This guy doesn’t seem embarrassed about anything he did. And why should he? He’s mined his life for comic gold.

Who knows if there will be a sequel in the works for Mr. Brand. I, for one, certainly hope so. I know he may not equal his tales from a wild youth but I’m sure there will be fascinating stories that will develop out of his new found maturity.