Shots from a shoot

July 16, 2014

I worked background (as a film extra) last night, on a feature film shooting night for day in an LA coffeeshop. Now anyone who’s ever worked as cast on a film set knows you spend most of your time waiting to be called to set, and we were stationed on the sidewalk to make space for the shooting and setups inside. So I divided my energy between wandering around taking pictures of what I could find in a 30 foot radius, and reading a novel called Jamesland (pretty good, if you like stories about messed up women) on my kindle.

The great thing about Beverly Blvd is it’s paradise for sign-bloggers. Stenciling has taken off, and is very hard to remove from pavements. Obscure alterations dot traffic signs. And there’s always someone with a lost dog or something weird to sell you or tell you.

A stencil on the ground shows a guy reading a book, but it looks like he's peeing. In the background, a member of the cast takes a break.

A stencil on the ground shows a guy reading a book, but it looks like he’s peeing. In the background, a member of the cast takes a break.

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Stingers curled around a cool stencil saying “Publish Enemies”. It’s a viral (probably illegal, but I’d bet the fine is less than doing it legally) campaign for a comics / TV brand you can follow on Twitter as @publishenemies

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“Sheep needs a facelift. Draw here.” I think personally, I’d rather be a live sheep than a dead crosswalk activist. But I’ve seen mothers using their kids and babies in strollers as human shields to jay-walk, so perhaps I’m just not as trendy as they are.

 

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I am convinced this is a joke. But in Hollywood, you really never know. All I can say is that if this dog is “like their child” I hope we never have to watch the live birth video of its exit from the vaginal canal, because that would be gross.

 

Found another day, just up the road. I actually spotted this guy (without any dogs) a few days later.

Found another day, just up the road. I actually spotted this guy (without any dogs) a few days later. He looks happy, but not like the type to wear pearls or care about cash.

 

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Grumpy Cat says more money should go towards providing shelters for homeless animals, but Republican cats think this will only encourage more cats to be homeless. Snapped on La Brea on the way home from set at 6am.

As massive as LA is, as huge a hub as it is for the film business, I was struck by how small it was when I arrived on set to discover that half the crew (including the Cinematographer) were from Chapman too, and the producer was South African. You can always tell when a set is full of Chapman alumni because of the singing and friendliness that comes with the hard work and long hours. And despite any gripes I may have against the school, I say that with some pride in my former film school.

God’s wrath against dildos and porn and parking violations

June 27, 2014

I found this on Facebook, captioned “Haha! Here’s a pic of storm damage on I-75 near the Huntsville-Oneida exit.”

The storm is real. Look how green that grass is. All the dye in LA can't give a lawn the glow of real rain.

The storm is real. Look how green that grass is. All the poisonous lawn dye in LA can’t give a lawn the glow of real rain.

Oh, how I wish it weren’t Fake. This is a rare case of me being on the same page as Christians, but mostly because I think it’s so funny, and I love coincidences. But if you want REAL punishment from God, for accidental crimes, when you least expect it, check out how much this LA tow van looks like it’s hauling a crucifix, on which it will one day crucify your car.

Suffer and die, crappy car that can't afford a garage...

Suffer and die, crappy car that can’t afford a garage…

I got towed, recently. Cost me almost $600 – that’s about 10 days work at what I get paid at the moment, gone, just for being a few inches over a red line. And if you don’t pay your fines here, they put you in jail. For real. It’s kinda depressing, that you could go to jail just for being too poor to make mistakes everybody makes, while celebs can get wasted and drive into lamp posts and walk free the next day.

Hollywood Video. It’s for the birds.

June 23, 2014

Back in South Africa, you still get video rental places – and not just in the dodgy parts of town, and they don’t make most of their money from porn.

That’s because there’s no netflix, no Amazon Prime, no HBO Go, no Hulu, there. Just Video rental places, the tiny selection on DSTV’s on-demand, and piracy. Piracy offers a much better range, so it’s popular even though it’s slow and gives you cooties. And I’d forgotten, till I popped in with a friend on a hungover day after Christmas, how damn frustrating video stores are. Everything good is ALWAYS out on Thursday nights, everything else is hard to find, and it’s all so damn expensive.

I stopped for groceries at a late-night Ralphs near The Wiltern, and noticed that the Hollywood Video sign light wasn’t even on. It was still serving a purpose though. Pigeons nest there after a long, hot day of scavenging for food in Koreatown.

It must have been buzzing 20 years ago.

It must have been buzzing 20 years ago.

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It’s for the birds, now. Literally. Like drive-ins, and if they keep making those disappointing, overpriced failed blockbusters, movie theaters soon, too.

 

 

 

Shut up please, I don’t care who you think you are in #palmsprings

June 19, 2014

It’s a film festival. Not a bar. But some people… you know how it is?

If you love short films, this is an amazing banquet of talent. If you love parties, there's one every single night. If you want to chat to your friends, maybe during another film's screening isn't the best time?

If you love short films, this is an amazing banquet of talent. If you love parties, there’s one every single night. If you want to network, there’s plenty of that too, but maybe during another film’s screening isn’t the best time?

Call me weird, but I’m one of those people who doesn’t go to the movies to listen to other people’s conversations. In fact I dislike listening to them so much that I almost never go with anyone to movies, in case they try to talk to me during the film.

So I am at the Palm Springs International Shortsfest. I decided to attend, to check out what made it in, since they are only 2 hours from LA and have swimming pools and really cheap hotels. And I’m glad I did. One of the best shorts I’ve seen is a really touching documentary called, Joanna, a Polish film directed by Aneta Kopacz , about a woman with cancer’s long farewell to her boy, and his to her. Sounds more depressing than it is – it’s actually very life affirming. I loved the film, but I kept getting taken out of it because, behind me, two old men were having an ongoing conversation.

I am guessing from the tone that their conversation wasn’t even about the movie. It seemed tedious. Maybe they were recommending each other golf courses, or plastic surgeons, or retirement villages. All I know is that they were ruining the film for everybody around them, and they didn’t care. In fact, they seemed to be having fun doing it.

You all know how it goes – there’s a hierarchy of ways to get people to shut the hell up during films. I and others tried them all.

Tactic 1 – Turn and look: This, they noticed, but completely ignored.

Tactic 2 – Turn and stare: This time, I did it for longer, and received a smirk in response. I wasn’t the only one, but they seemed to be enjoying the attention they got!

Tactic 3 – Turn, look and “Shhhht”!: This wasn’t me. The woman behind me cracked first. This caused them to laugh and keep talking.

Tactic 4 – Polite desperation: “Can you be quiet, please or go outside, guys?” This was me. The response was to first drop to a quieter voice, and gradually increase in volume until the end of the film.

As the titles rolled, I attempted tactic 5.

Tactic 5 – Public shaming part I: “Would you guys not start another conversation, please?” This really amused them, and a few people around me agreed with me. The old boys laughed mockingly, but shut up for the remainder of the screening.

Unfortunately, the best film had already been ruined. The others were mostly interesting – the best of the rest being the Lion’s Mouth Opens, which I’d already seen at Sundance. Only one film felt like it didn’t belong – a 17-minute-long schmooze-fest about a local celeb photographer called Michael Childers, who while worth honoring has to be the only reason they programmed the ‘radio with pictures’ documentary full of shots of the interviewer grinning at Childers and Childers talking about how famous he and his friends are. Local is lekker, as we say in South Africa.  But this film stood out by not fitting into the line-up except to get local bums on seats. I watched in silence, distracting myself by hoping that the two noisy old guys would leave before the Q&A so that I wouldn’t have to see their smug faces again.

And what do you know? Not only did they not have the sense to leave, but when the presenter asked, at the end of the screening, for all those involved in all the films and present to stand, the two old men who’d been talking through vastly superior films by fellow film-makers stood to celebrate their achievement in Michael Childers: Hollywood in the Desert Sky.  I don’t know what their role was. All I know is that I couldn’t believe they had the gonads to identify themselves.

So this was when I had to raise my hand and out them for their rudeness to the entire theater. Ordinary rich trash out for a bit of culture after too many mimosas at breakfast? No problem. Idiocy is expected. But going to a film festival as a filmmaker and then disrupting another artist’s screening to a paying audience has to be the most disrespectful, and amateurish thing you can do. This would have been a good time for them to apologize.

But their response to me and others who vocally supported me? A sarcastic comment: “Ooooh. Such a purist”.

I had to leave, because staying there would have driven me insane. Yes, I’m a purist. I love movies. I won’t apologize for this, and I paid #12 for my ticket and came all the way to Palm Springs. I don’t care who you think you are or if you’re famous in Palm Springs – you simply have no right to ruin another filmmaker’s screening for me.

I hoped for a chance to see Joanna again without them there, but sadly, it only screened once. Look out for it at other festivals. Even disruptive chatter didn’t prevent it moving me to tears and laughter and I know it’ll be showing all over the world this year.

Johanna

Michael Childers: Hollywood Under a Desert Sky

Who’s the best? Art Contest in a Koreatown Mall

June 1, 2014

“A Brighter Future” – that’s the topic assigned by Korean bank BBCN, who sponsor the national baseball team and also this student art contest. The winners and honorees were displayed in my local mall, the Galleria. I wandered in there late at night while killing 15 minutes before an appointment for a foot massage.

It happened to be a time when I was thinking a lot about winners and losers, and not feeling like much of a winner. What’s great about what I saw is that I realized that the judges are crazy. The winners deserve their prizes, but that doesn’t mean the “losers” don’t deserve to win as much or more.

This got me to thinking that you can’t make good art if you do it for the sake of approval, and not for the sake of passion. I recently saw a film that cost about $2 million to make. The filmmakers stated up front that they wanted to make a commercial film. Everything about it screamed manipulation, right down to the fact that the music was like an action movie trailer soundtrack looped for about 90 minutes. Watching it, I felt dirty and annoyed. What a waste of money and all the participants’ talent. No, you don’t make art “for yourself”. It needs to be seen. But you also don’t cynically make it to score points, or it will suck.

With that, you be the judges.

I had the gallery mostly to myself.

I had the gallery mostly to myself.

I like this one. It's very teenaged - like the kid had to conform to the "Bright Future" thing but was in hormonal mood on the day.

I like this one. It’s very teenaged – like the kid had to conform to the “Bright Future” thing but was in hormonal mood on the day.

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A prize winner. I like it, but it is feels mostly decorative and doesn’t move me much. I predict this artist could probably make a living, though, unlike most, as nobody wants to hang trauma on their walls.

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This is really cool. I love the speeding devil-bull. By Heather Choi. Title is in Korean.

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Again, lovely for a lounge. Not sure why it’s a winner but I like it. Ashly Haine, “Italy Trip”

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I think this is brilliant. I love the sense of perspective, the choice of angle, the sky POV and the family of birds hanging out right there with her. This should have won a prize. Can’t read the artist’s name but the title is “Helping Hands”

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I picked out this one because it reminds me of the kinds of things my brother used to draw as a kid. He was really talented but went into Medicine, leaving me to flounder around in the art world. Andrew Kim’s “Energetic Crane”.

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Hilarious – a protest against the horrors of homework. I remember feeling like that, like I’d die if I had to do my maths problems. I’d avoid it until 10pm every time. Of course, not quite suitable for BBCN bank’s yay the future theme. by Theresa Oh. Can’t read the title. “… Camp”

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This being a school art contest, I saw a lot of eyes, hair, and clocks. Being a kid is difficult as you get older. You are not free, but you have all this pressure on you. People who feel their school years were the best of their lives puzzle me. I always liked learning but institutions blow. Can’t read the title or artist name… sorry.

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This is awesome. So many stories in this, like a memory of riding the bus, or of one day around town. Again unfortunately the title and artist name are blurred!

A playground picture. I like it a lot.

A playground picture. I like it a lot.

Sweet. A self portrait.

Sweet. A self portrait.

A prize winner. I am surprised this one. It is interesting, but not really on-message. It reminds me of Kentridge or Jane Alexander. Can't read the text.

A prize winner. I am surprised this one. It is interesting, but not really on-message. It reminds me of Kentridge or Jane Alexander. Can’t read the text.

I think the overhead is fun. A portrait of a life that seems crammed with possibilities.

I think the overhead is fun. A portrait of a life that seems crammed with possibilities.

The title of this is something like "families reunited" and I suspect it is to do with North/South Korea. I loved it and I think it should have won something.

The title of this is something like “families reunited” and I suspect it is to do with North/South Korea. I loved it and I think it should have won something.

Hilarious. That french bread looks like a you know what.

Hilarious. That french bread looks like a you know what. And the dude on the stomach seems really surprised by how big it is. I don’t think this was the artist’s intention. But that’s another thing about art – you can’t control what you make, entirely.

Joyce Yo, "Drowning without Soul". Weird. I don't know if I get it. Is it about prostitution?

Joyce Yo, “Drowning without Soul”. Weird. I don’t know if I get it. Is it about prostitution?

So cool. A girly giant lizard.

So cool. A girly giant lizard.

While I was looking at this, a random guy came up to me and asked "Is that your daughter's picture?" I was really insulted at the time, because it looks like a portrait of an addict mother. Why do strangers think it's okay to ask you personal questions like that? Then again, what kind of weirdo wanders around an empty mall on a Saturday night.

While I was looking at this, a random guy came up to me and asked “Is that your daughter’s picture?” I was really insulted at the time, because it looks like a portrait of an addict mother. Why do strangers think it’s okay to ask you personal questions like that? Then again, what kind of weirdo wanders around an empty mall on a Saturday night.

The eye thing again. There were a lot of them.

The eye thing again. There were a lot of them. This seems like a portrait of a talker. Or is it a lonely person watching a group of friends and wishing they could be there, with them?

This picture is so vary LA - "Urbanization of Sophistication" by Erica Lee. I love it.

This picture is so vary LA – “Urbanization of Sophistication” by Erica Lee. I love it.

Jennifer Bae "Movie Theater" captures a moment from Frozen, which the Sound Designer on my thesis film, Christine Hals, worked on. I love this because it captures the magic of movies as a child, the way they fill your head and your heart.

Jennifer Bae “Movie Theater” captures a moment from Frozen, which the Music Composer on my thesis film, Christine Hals, worked on. I love this because it captures the magic of movies as a child, the way they fill your head and your heart.

Cell phone age art. All those smileys seem to be chattering, overwhelmingly and annoyingly happy. Not sure if that's what Kyle Son meant by "Smart Phone with Emoties".

Cell phone age art. All those smileys seem to be chattering, overwhelmingly and annoyingly happy. Not sure if that’s what Kyle Son meant by “Smart Phone with Emoties”.

There's a singer like this on a hundred stages like this in LA right now. The color and style reminds me of Kandinsky. Allen Manjae Chun "If I were a singer".

There’s a singer like this on a hundred stages like this in LA right now. The color and style reminds me of Kandinsky. Allen Manjae Chun “If I were a singer”.

Another awesome teenage self portrait by Scarlett Chang. I love the energy of this picture and I would probably have given it a prize.

Another awesome teenage self portrait by Scarlett Chang. I love the energy of this picture and I would probably have given it a prize.

Earnest, interesting. Not really sure about it. Well executed though, and the bank note probably helped make it a winner.

Earnest, interesting. Not really sure about it. Well executed though, and the bank note probably helped make it a winner.

"Face Painting at a Korea Party" - the colors in this remind me so much of the pictures sold at traffic lights in SA. By Jaimie Yoon.

“Face Painting at a Korea Party” – the colors in this remind me so much of the pictures sold at traffic lights in SA. By Jaimie Yoon.

This by Paul Seo won a judges award.

This by Paul Seo won a judges award.

So you see what I mean. They’re all lovely – I photographed all the winners and then all the ones I thought were interesting. I enjoyed this little exhibition easily as much as any I’ve seen in a famous museum. I wonder where these kids – some of whom are six years old now – will be in 20 years. Who knows, they might be famous film-makers, artists, animators or photographers. I hope they are happy, whatever the future holds.

 

 

Elbow live at The Wiltern in my Los Angeles

May 29, 2014

Living in LA can be lonely when you’re single, don’t really drink and don’t have that community you spent your 20s and 30s building. But sometimes it’s all wow and no downside. Like tonight. I’m getting to see Elbow ( one of my favorite bands ever) play live five minutes drive and 30 minutes parking from my apartment. Since it’s music to slit your wrists to it almost feels appropriate to be standing in line alone.

Who named this street "Ethanol". Secret genius, as this corner is a favorite with Hollywood's homeless drunk population, and it's rich drunk population.

Who named this street “Methanol”. Secret genius, as this corner is a favorite with Hollywood’s homeless drunk/druggie population, and it’s rich drunk/druggie population.

The long line moved fast, and then we were in. The place has a bar in every available space and service by a waitress with an illuminated tray in the theater itself.

I've always wondered what it was like inside the Wiltern. Now I know - it's amazing.

I’ve always wondered what it was like inside the Wiltern. Now I know – it’s amazing.

The bathroom. Nothing changes wherever you go. "So and so is a slut whore bitch" "So and so is an asshole" "Here, look, a cat."

The bathroom. Nothing changes wherever you go. “So and so is a slut whore bitch” “So and so is an asshole” “Here, look, a cat.”

The nosebleed seat I got was almost a pleasure, simply because the building was so beautiful. Anyhow, you don't go to SEE Elbow, so much as to listen to them.

The nosebleed seat I got was almost a pleasure, simply because the building was so beautiful. Anyhow, you don’t go to SEE Elbow, so much as to listen to them.

And I listened. And I cried. “Mirrorball” always gets me. First the tingles, then the fucking tears.

 

 

And after the show, I went to buy ice cream, then took a side street back to my car.  And after wishing I wasn’t quite so far away from my favorite band for most of the show, guess who I run into, out for a smoke behind Dennys? Elbow. They looked smaller off stage, even though I was closer now. They listened politely and exhaustedly as I gushed my thanks, feeling my faith in miracles restored.

 

 

Photos from a heatwave in LA

May 4, 2014

It’s been an amazing week. There have been some moments of relative hell. I froze up while trying to pitch a screenplay. My toilet broke and I’m still flushing with a bucket.

But those are not what I will remember.

This is where I live now.

Every time I see the city, I have to remind myself this is now home.

I live here. Every time I see the city, I have to remind myself this is now home.

Saturday night at Paul's in Orange. I've seen people get slapped by girls there. And when I say "girls" I mean it loosely.

Saturday night at Paul’s in Orange. I’ve seen people get slapped by girls there. And when I say “girls” I mean it loosely.

Noticed this protest flag above a bar, commenting on Turkey's laws against twitter.

Noticed this protest flag above a bar, commenting on Turkey’s laws against twitter on my way to a party on Sunset on Saturday.

There’s a heatwave happening. No sign of rain. No wind, really, unless you count the millions of fans, and in richer neighborhoods than mine, air-con units.

I set my alarm for 4am to make set by 6am. Went to bed at 12.30. Fell asleep at 2.15. Woke up at 2.30 to a massive car accident outside my window. So much for sleeping in Koreatown on a thursday night.

I set my alarm for 4am to make set by 6am. Went to bed at 12.30. Fell asleep at 2.15. Woke up at 2.30 to a massive car accident outside my window. So much for sleeping in Koreatown on a Thursday night.

The next day, I went to work. Not a bad office, right? Even without sleep in the hot sun running up and down stairs, I loved it.

The next day, I went to work. Not a bad office, right? Even without sleep in the hot sun running up and down stairs, I loved it.

It's a city where every electric box can be a sign.

It’s a city where every electric box can be a sign.

Where a Frieda Kahlo exhibition is not just in the museum. Although it's there, too.

Where a Frieda Kahlo exhibition is not just in the museum. Although it’s there, too.

Where I have no idea what this is about, although I see it everywhere.

Where I have no idea what this is about, although I see it everywhere.

Where there's a new weird billboard every day.

Where there’s a new weird billboard every day. This one from http://www.inthemeantimemen.org/ puzzled me enough that I looked it up. Inthemeantime is an organization that provides non-homophobic counseling, awareness, and testing.

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Another day, another perfect 8pm sunset as my turnoff approaches.

I have no idea why this is there, on an empty building.

I have no idea why this is there, on an empty building. “how do you feel here right now?” I felt stuck in traffic, which I feel a lot…

Took a walk to my local market - in a Korean mall. They don't sell cheese but everything else, they got.

Took a walk to my local market – in a Korean mall. They don’t sell cheese but everything else, they got. I noticed this mural, titled “Butcher”, on Olympic. I have no idea what it’s about.

At the mall, I found this Random Heart - something I began noticing after fellow blogger and friend Dorothyblack.net began documenting them. I always thought they had to be accidental - this one, like mine, probably is. It's a grease spot.

At the mall, I found this Random Heart – something I began noticing after fellow blogger and friend Dorothyblack.net began documenting them. I always thought they had to be accidental – this one, like mine, probably is. It’s a grease spot.

Home made stop sign. I love that someone made it. You can't buy them, probably for legal reasons.

Home made stop sign. I love that someone made it. You can’t buy them, probably for legal reasons.

So tempting... Would I have a legal leg to stand on if I parked there?

So tempting…

I found this David Bowie cat outside two broken down, deserted houses on a side street. There were about 10 other white cats and a white kitten camped out there. Neighbors leave their frying pans just inside the gate out to be cleaned.

I found this David Bowie cat outside two broken down, deserted houses on a side street. There were about 10 other white cats and a white kitten camped out there. Neighbors leave their frying pans just inside the gate out to be cleaned.

And then I got home and wrote for a while. Hit the end of act two of the rom-com I’m working on. Life is good, but South Africa and the elections feel strangely far away. They warned me about this – about America – that I’d begin to feel I belonged. And I do.

 

 

LA coffeeshop encapsulates what’s to hate about hipsters

April 24, 2014

LA Hipsters can be revolting, partly because so many of them actually are cool. You know, they work in the entertainment or design business. They can afford a $1500 studio in Downtown. They have something I want. But please, gods let me never become like them. I’ll get religion just to avoid that fate. You know what I mean. The people who think it’s cool to read Vice, but would never do anything in it.

What brought this on, Jean? Oh, just an innocent cup of coffee. I have been reading a book for potential adaptation all day. I needed a break and I needed to get out of my apartment – out of Koreatown for a bit too. So I drove to Grafitti on La Brea, which advertises “sublime coffee”. I expected it to be be as pretentious as an Eraserhead haircut, but I also expected to enjoy it as a change from the tatty but loveable life I live day to day.

I mean, look at this place. It's like a laboratory in an airport bathroom, and everybody's wearing black. Even that one customer there.

I mean, look at this place. It’s like a laboratory in an airport bathroom, and everybody’s wearing black. Even that one customer there.

This should have been a clue to me that I should just leave, but instead I got into the line-of-one on the pretentious carpet and before I entered, read the rules. Yes, the rules. Which are posted all over the place, including as you walk in.

Now at THIS point, I really should have known to leave. The Barrista shot me a bored look. I felt out of place, like he could tell my clothes came from a thrift store - and not a trendy one.

Now at THIS point, I really should have known to leave.  There’s also a sign telling parents that their kids may not raise their voices or play in the coffeeshop. It felt unnecessarily aggressive. This isn’t the kind of place you bring kids, but if you do, it’s clearly a quiet environment. So why make a thing of it?

The Barista shot me a bored look. I felt out of place, like he could tell my clothes came from a thrift store – and not a trendy one.

But I’m stubborn, as we all know. So, feeling a little nervous,  I ordered a pour over. And a glass of tap water. Now, the first thing I noticed is that despite the eco-conscious, profiteering use of peace signs and organic wadawada-wa they use disposible paper and plastic cups. God forbid their hands should get wet or something… Where do these idiots think paper and plastic come from. Trees? Well, yes, but it’s more complicated than that.

I got my glass of water. When it was empty, I tried to refill it from the handily positioned tap on the counter but I couldn’t figure out how to open the tap, so I gave up. I got my coffee and sat down. The music was soothing and I settled into a trendy but uncomfortable chair to enjoy it and keep reading when… along came the Barista. I smiled at him. He didn’t smile back.
“I just came to inform you,” he said, with a glance up above the counter, “That sometimes they watch on the camera up there. And they saw you trying to take a glass of water. It’s against health regulations.”
I thought he was kidding. Surely he was kidding. No. He was not kidding.
“Oh… what?” He kinda hovered, so I felt obliged to say. “Well, I failed to figure out how your tap works.”
“Well I just wanted to inform you.”
It was humiliating. I sat there for a while as he walked away, feeling like a kid caught stealing, even though taking a glass of water shouldn’t be a crime when you’re buying a $4.35 cup of coffee.

For a while, I tried to stay, but I couldn’t. I left my coffee (which was good, but I couldn’t bear to drink) on the counter for the dude to clean up.

It looks like these guys just realized they broke a rule. Maybe that's not a real Mac?

It looks like these guys just realized they broke a rule. Maybe that’s not a real Mac?

 

So twee it makes me want to vomit.... but wait! Look! There's a sign there that says "Water Closet" in the far right corner. Maybe that's where I was meant to get my second plastic cup of the precious liquid? Or maybe the barista could pee in the cup - I'm sure his urine is pure as sunlight.

So twee it makes me want to vomit…. but wait! Look! There’s a sign there that says “Water Closet” in the far right corner. Maybe that’s where I was meant to get my second plastic cup of the precious liquid? Or maybe the barista could pee in the cup – I’m sure his urine is pure as the sunlight of angels.

Turns out my infringement recorded on their CCTV had nothing to do with hygiene, and everything to do with profit. They charge – get it, CHARGE – $1 per cup of water after the first one.

What should be written on all parts of the sidewalk outside Graffiti.

What should be written on all parts of the sidewalk outside Graffiti.

Anyhow, I felt like shit driving home. So much for my big treat of the day. But I felt a little better when I went to yelp looking for pictures and found that many – no, most – of the reviewers who had some hilarious and completely right on things to say about this pretentious bleached asshole of an establishment.

Here’s a short selection:

“The space is not welcoming at all, in fact there is signs everywhere with there different rules. I don’t have children and I was offended by there sign about keeping children’s noise level low and it won’t be tolerated..I don’t know if they know but children aren’t that easy to teach to keep there voices down..they are kids for gd sake!” Dadli Y.

“…my friend and I decided it definitely smells like a pool (you know that weird humid-chlorine kind of air thing?)” – Kira S.

“I appreciate the space. I think its beautiful. What I did not love are all the signs with rules everywhere. “kids cant talk loud” “kids cant run around” “Every person inside must make a purchase.”  “One wifi password per person. No outside food or drinks.” It made me feel like such a bad bad kid. After blowing 10 bucks on a juice I decided I probably will …. never go back.” – Molly s.

“Overalls they come off as cheap and unhappy, however it’s apparently for a good reason- to keep away moochers. Though they don’t even give free water continuously, the first cup is free, then $1 per cup.” – Josh H.

“Stay away from this place. Aside from the overpriced coffee, and list of rules (literally, there is a list of rules to follow when you are inside), the customer service is atrocious. The baristas were condescending and cold. They were blatantly making fun of a customer right in front of me. I had to sit outside so I wouldn’t have to overhear anymore jackass conversations.

Also, what’s with their list of rules? I felt like a child in a catholic school where every move I made was being watched. “Every person inside must make a purchase. One wifi password per person. No outside food or drinks.” DId the owners forget this is JUST a coffee shop.” – Marina M.

“EEK! I’m surprised they don’t have a dress code!” – Ami S.

“We were in line ordering our 2 coffees, and a hot chocolate for our daughter (which would have cost us about $20), when our 8-year old daughter went to sit in a chair about 10 feet from us. Out of nowhere, the barista starts waving at us to get our attention… in front of our faces… and says, “We aren’t kid-friendly, so can you keep her close to you?”. Was she going to damage the gigantic stainless steel table in front of her?
At first, I thought there’s no way this woman just said this to me, but when I said, “excuse me”, she repeated herself. With no shame, said again, “Yeah we aren’t kid-friendly”. Kid-friendly?! The kid who gets excited to go to Graffiti to get a hot chocolate, who was sitting quietly in an empty chair. Our daughter couldn’t understand what she did wrong that we weren’t welcome anymore.
Needless to say, we walked out. As soon as we got in the car, our daughter then tells us that the owner yelled at her to get off of the chair she was sitting in. Where do you get off?! You overgrown steroid geriatric a$$hole dressed like you’re 15!”  – Noah W.

The people have spoken.

LA’s ever-shifting wall-art world

April 17, 2014

Most of the art I get round to seeing is painted on walls. I love the people who beautify the city I live in with their work.

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A new one. I gather it’s all about peace and love.

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“All you need is the right kind of love”. Don’t I know it. And if it’s out there, it’s out of reach right now. A married friend recently gave me a well-meaning lecture about how hard love was – as if I didn’t know. But I still think life is better with it than without it, and I still believe finding it is sadly, rare.

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Yeah. But do it the right way. I love how you don’t even see the car advert dominating the wall.

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Check out that cell phone that uses the pipe of the building as an aerial. One of my favourites, which I pass almost daily.

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The beautiful Wiltern. I wish I could live inside it. I must go see a band there sometime. Somehow managed to miss Amos Lee when he played.

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On an electricity box opposite the big Wiltern… a little Wiltern. So cute. I hope nobody messes it up.

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A lot of the wall art that survives unscathed over the years does so because it’s high up. But unfortunately nobody’s too high up to hide from capitalism.

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Don’t remember where I took this. It’s so cool.

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Some places need art more than others. I nearly missed this one, just after a burned out building.

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Someone has badly defaced it so it almost blends in with the lost, run down strip of Chrenshaw, with $20 tattoo parlors, pawn shops and 99c stores competing for sparse clients.

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Punch-in: It’s like whoever defaced this with crude, pointless black paint doesn’t realise how what they are doing just underlines what the words are telling them.

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Punch-in: A woman passing saw me looking at it and stopped to talk. “I watched the artist painting this for half an hour,” she said. “The kids who drew all over this should be arrested. That’s what we need. Zero tolerance. I live around here but it’s so dangerous.” Then she crossed the road and I wondered if I’d ever see her again.

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Punch-in: It’s called “The Gift”. Hey whatever you think of what the artist is saying, it’s still something better to think about than what car to buy, or which four letter words to tattoo on your knuckles.

 

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Stencil art is big in Cape Town too. Damn the moron with the purple crayon!

But hey, let’s end with my favorite, of all time, so far unblemished.

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Because in this sometimes lonely city, the writing underneath the angel picture says: We are all angels with one wing. We can only fly holding each other. I also love the paintings on the wall of the Peter Pan Market and 99c Store opposite it.

Little Los Angeles: Look closer for sad stories and small miracles

April 13, 2014

Look at LA. Isn’t she beautiful? What always amazes me is how much is hidden behind, around, and underneath the buildings that I remember from watching LA Law re-runs as a lonely tween on Saturday nights in South Africa long ago.

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Taken from the parking lot at Galleria Mall, Koreatown

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Oculus just released. It’s the story of two grown kids who destroy a killer mirror (yeah, for sure!) by the makers or Paranormal Activity and other horror gems.

Look closer: Someone has drawn red horns on the girl.

Look closer: Someone has drawn red horns on the girl, and made her eyes red. Probably a burned out Hollywood nanny on their day off.

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A building near mine on a cloudy morning. There’s a story poking through from under the fresh coat of white paint…

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Two nights before, I went to buy oranges at the Guatemalan market near my apartment. As I left the lobby, I saw a guy tagging the wall, as his getaway car waited in the street. They stopped and admired it and took a photo before they left. The police didn’t come for 25 minutes when I called 911 the other night to report a guy in a white pimp suit shaking a girl in his car, parked in the middle of the road. Just in case you thought the police in SA were the only slack ones. By the time they showed, 10 minutes after I called again, the girl had run off and the guy had driven away.

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A sign board at a queue for a ride at Universal Studios’ theme park, reflecting happy holiday-makers. Notice anything?

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A little snail made it’s way under the glass somehow. I guess it must have arrived when it was smaller and grown up inside the glass.

Sometimes it’s fun to do it in reverse. See this billboard?

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LIVE THE CALIFORNIA DREAM… A swimming pool lined with palm trees in the center of your courtyard. They don’t mention you need to earn a fortune to have that in LA. Apartments like that cost $3-5k a month.

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And look where it is! Above a fleabag apartment building with cardboard-thin walls, on a triple lane road full of pot holes and cracks, near the freeway underpass where people who don’t even have a home eek out a living from under tarpaulins by the bridge. They recently re-painted this block, but it’s another great LA cover-up operation.

What I love about film-making is how it’s taught me to really, truly look at things. Once you begin to do that, there are stories everywhere you go.

 


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