Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Standard Night


It started in the hotel room.

It was a trendy hotel with no discernable theme catering to the rich and the beautiful-or at least people with enough money to seem beautiful.  Like a group of boy scouts, we sat in a semi circle on bright orange couches figuring out sneaky ways to re-attach our tampered wristbands.  Apparently the party on the roof was filled to capacity and even our gracious host, who self righteously proclaimed “I’m gonna spend 25 grand easily on this place!” couldn’t do much about it.  He was a lanky corporate CFO by day and a hard partying, rhinestone adorned goofball by night.  He threw his wristband on the table out of frustration.  My wristband was still partially intact so I managed to squeeze it around my skinny little wrist.

It continued at the escalators.

He shook his head.  “It’s been tampered with, I’m not accepting this” the doorman said to me as he examined my wristband.  I wanted to defy him but our host ushered me to the front of the long line that snaked around the block.  Girls in slinky dresses shivered in the chilly LA evening breeze as suited men ogled them point blank.

Our host nonchalantly marched us to the gatekeepers after our resourceful but foolish plan imploded.  He handed the well-coifed list holder a thick wad of rolled bills.  We were in.

The 13th floor.  Wait, isn’t it bad luck for a hotel to have a 13th floor?

Towering (by LA standards) among the Downtown skyscrapers a loud and dark scene unfolded before me as the heavy echo of the bass pounded in my throat.  Champagne flowing, a full dance floor, and people sprawled about giant couches—basically the kind of scene I try to avoid.

I took my place with the rest of the posse.  A waiter arrived with 2 bottles of champagne and filled our glasses.  I took a few sips and remembered that I don’t like the taste of alcohol, no matter how sweet.  Across from me a drunk, fat girl plopped herself onto a couch and passed out.  An old bearded man reminding me of the scary neighbor from Home Alone stood behind her at roof’s edge taking in the sprawling view of Los Angeles like a boss.  Sitting--or lying, I should say--directly behind me was a shiny, bald head.  I don’t even know where the rest of him was but his shiny dome kept bumping into my spine.  I was not amused.

Moments later I was joined by a talent agent who works in the big leagues.  Upon his offer to fill my glass I explained that I don’t drink alcohol because I’m Muslim.  He paused and stared.  “No I’m just joking” I laughed.  He laughed as well, uneasily.  During a long conversation he encouraged me to embellish details on my professional “real work” resumé since no one checks that stuff anyways, except on the tertiary level.  He then explained what the “tertiary level” meant.  I felt like a dumb actress.  But I quickly recovered with my ability to pick up a Portuguese phrase he taught me.  The agent lavished me with compliments about my beauty, intelligence, and charm.  He was certainly nice and found me to be an intriguing person worth conversing with.  That or he just wanted me to suck his dick.

The agent departed to the dance floor and was replaced by a twice-divorced artist with an air of brilliance and mental instability—my cup of tea I suppose.  He proposed an artistic collaboration but was interrupted by a tipsy girl asking if he was in the movie business.  He confessed he was and I found myself sitting between an ear-splitting conversation about an art director gluing individual hairs onto a monkey costume.

The artist managed to tear himself away from talking shop and paused for a long time.  I thought I was boring him but in retrospect, he might have been high.  I told him that I like to draw caricatures of Arabs and Orthodox Jews and create political cartoons and that I used to live in Israel.  We talked about the Middle East and I learned he was a soldier and was shot in the back with a non-automatic weapon in Yemen.  “I was up and moving and next thing I know, I was on my back looking to the sky.  I don’t know who shot me.”  

In another round of musical chairs the artist was replaced with the bisexual wife of our host, a psych major about to begin a massive test study with suicidal teenagers in need of some kind of therapy with the word “cognitive” in it.  She thoroughly explained what her study entailed and the magnitude of working with this particular organization.  Personally, I’d like to see her let loose on a group of depressed and suicidal teenagers.

In the final round of musical chairs our generous host cozied up next to me.  Glowing abuzz he tried to divert my attention toward his cigarette-smoking, Diesel-wearing Korean friend.  He proclaimed to us, “You’re both beautiful!  And you have the brains of….” he trailed off, “Take advantage of each other!”  I see.  Well, the intellectual Asian was never really my thing.

The music stopped and the lights came back on.  The party ended as waves of drunk people took last swigs of their drinks and made for the elevators.  Our host and his posse opted for the stairs instead.  If drunk people were loud and sloppy in the dark, under the light they became hideous monsters with smeared mascara, bare feet, drink stains, watery eyes, and the general inability to walk downstairs without looking like a rollerblader:  both hands on the rail and sideways.

A pause on the 9th floor.

Our host couldn’t find his room key.  The drunk girl (formerly tipsy) begged him to hurry up because she really had to pee.

It ended in the hotel room.

The shower and jacuzzi tub took up half the room with only a curtain separating them from the rest of the suite.  Families not welcome.

Maybe I didn’t notice before, but there was a giant sculpture of a foot in the middle of the bathroom.  People took turns taking pictures with it.  Mysteriously, two random black guys showed up.  I remembered seeing one of them earlier at the party upstairs.  He ordered me to pour him a glass of champagne.  Now he had a friend with him.  They both claimed to be doctors.  The drunk girl did not like them one bit and kept asking our host to make them leave.  I think black men scare her.

I retreated to my place on the orange couch with my Korean kimchee brother.  He seemed very uncomfortable with the scene, slightly aglow.  I looked over to the massive bed and saw the bisexual psych major’s best friend jumping on  it.  Her arms were swinging wildly over her head.  I looked closely and noticed a huge red line across her left wrist.  I thought back to myself as a teenager.  There was no doubt in my mind.  Then I wondered, “Do adults still do that?!”  I guess this girl could have been a participant in her best friend’s psych study.  Except she wasn’t a teenager anymore.

My attention was diverted to the center of the room.  One of the doctors tackled our host to the ground, taking his doctor friend down with them.  In the tangled mess of three grown men rolling on the floor it was hardly noticeable when one of them stayed down.  Like a dog playing dead, one of the doctors laid on his back with his knees up.  And stayed.  Our host got up, dusted himself off and joined me at the orange couch.  His face was inches from mine and I could see my reflection in his bloodshot eyes.  I thought he might have sneezed on himself in the melée and I was about to let him know he left a little something behind when I suddenly registered what it was.  Again, I thought back to my teenage years.  But I didn’t need to ask myself if adults still did that when I knew for certain that they did.

He rubbed at the powdery residue and said “oh, this?” and feigned an apology.  I think he even blushed a little.  I just remarked that he had an adult booger.  But of course it explained everything.  Over and over he said, “Everything’s amazing, everything’s beautiful, everything’s great!  We’re good?  Are you good?  Are we all good?” as he rubbed my shoulders.  I turned to look at the doctor on the floor and watched him vomit all over himself.  “Guys!” I shouted.  Everyone in the room looked at him and gagged.  One woman nearly barfed herself and ran for cover.  Her boyfriend followed her.  He wore a Dustin-Hoffman-as-Captain-Hook-mustache and a fedora.  The sight of him nearly made me gag.

The drunk girl and her boyfriend abruptly left.  Our host ordered the dead dog’s friend to clean after his mess.  In a fit of drunken anger he grabbed some towels and toilet paper and shouted, “This is below my pay grade!”  Seriously, who the fuck says that?!  Do you not wipe your own ass after you shit?  A few minutes later someone asked him why he became a doctor.  He answered, “So when bitches ask me how much money I make, I can say A LOT!”  

As if nothing happened everyone kept partying.  The psych major began to fill the Jacuzzi with water.  The artist disappeared into a dark corner to silently brood.  The agent sat alone near the window.  “Everything was silent then everything was loud” he said before departing.  Shortly thereafter my kimchee brother took off as well.  With the semi-sane people gone, the Jacuzzi half full, and a drunk doctor passed out with pools of vomit covered by hotel towels, I didn't even noticed the giant foot moved to the couches.  When the fuck did this happen?  I knew it was my time to leave.  I didn’t really want to see where the night would lead.  I didn’t want to know what would happen when the Jacuzzi was full or when the felony rings would grow in size and quantity.  I was in a daze and yet I was wide awake, more sober than anyone else in a mile radius.

Walking to my car I gave a homeless man a dollar.  I guess I can also throw money around like a bitch.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Birds


There’s a family of birds that live in a nest inside my garage roof.  Whenever I walk by, they fly away.  The other day while reversing my car to leave I saw two birds fighting to the death.  I stopped the car and watched the two birds wrestle with all their might using their legs, their wings, and their beaks.  They didn’t even notice I was parked there, intently watching them.  Other birds flew closer to watch and cheer them on.  Not one bird intervened.  They simply gathered nearby or watched from a safe distance on the telephone wires.  All the birds chirped in a loud commotion.  I felt kind of sad watching them, but also intrigued.  What could they have been fighting over?  They weren’t wrestling over food.  Did one bird insult the other?  Did one of them try to evict the other from the nest?  Did one of the birds sleep with the other’s wife?  Or were they having a lover’s quarrel?  I rolled my window down and began to tsk at them but they paid no mind.  None of the birds did.  I guess its best not to interfere with nature.

Yesterday while shooting in Downtown LA I witnessed a pigeon limping close to a wall.  He was shaking and could barely move.  He tried to get up and fly away but his weight kept him grounded.  He flapped his wings violently but managed only to rise a few inches off the ground.  He was back where he started, getting closer to the wall, shaking.  I pointed this out to the photographer.  He glanced over with a sympathetic expression on his face and said “he’s probably going to die soon.”  “What’s wrong with him?” I asked.  “He probably broke his leg and cannot move.”  “I bet he’s in so much pain and really scared of us.”  I moved closer to the pigeon to offer comforting words but realized the complete futility of my gesture.  I didn’t want to scare the pigeon anymore than he already was so I backed away.  I wanted to end his suffering but he wasn’t just some bug I could squash.  As if reading my mind the photographer said, “If I had my pellet gun, I would just put him out of his misery.”