koi and swan, sepia

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sha la la la la

I called my brother in Toronto this morning. "Hey Buzz," I say. There was a long and pregnant pause on the phone. "Buzz?" Finally a few moments later I heard his voice, dripping with the usual sarcasm. "You haven't eaten one freaking sandwich this week you can write about?"

Buzz is a lawyer turned chef/ restauranteur who is dealing with some unfortunate health issues at present and now gets to eat around courtesy of his older brother, somewhat cathartically as you may guess.

I have, of course, been ensconced in the sprawling metropolis to the north all week and the blog has been pretty much out of commission. My buddy Steve and I did the Los Angeles Art Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center for the second year in a row.

I did reasonably well, haven't matched last year's number but the figure was fairly respectable, for these times anyway and come to think of it, a lot of last year's totals came weeks after the show with call backs. Perhaps the fat contralto has not yet sung?

We stayed at the old Hotel Figueroa, a moorish affair quite popular with the young, hip and freshly scrubbed. Old belter styled wooden divans decorated with paisley and peacocks, crude faux arabic gilt patterns stenciled on the walls and trim. We are repeats there, it allowed us to walk to the show and we stayed out of our cars and on our feet whenever possible.

The rooms are small but functional. Steve and I had an identical complaint; the pillows were too full, we like a big pillow to be accompanied by a smaller pillow that you can scrunch for under the neck. You have too fold a corner of one of the big beastly pillows over and slide it under your neck and it almost does the trick.

I had the overpriced and pedestrian buffet one morning and amused myself watching the similarly checked young couple across from me ignore each other over their coffee.

I like the Figueroa, hope the upcoming grand remodel doesn't screw up the overall funkiness of the place.

I don't know if I should talk about food or art so I will try to mix the two up a bit.

It was a two day setup. A gruff teamster barked at me from the top of the ramp and there was a whole barrage of passes we had to obtain and license plate numbers they had to jot down.

I twiddled my thumbs in an uncomfortable chair for what seemed like a mini eternity before the lady from the Palm Beach group deigned to take my check and give me a badge. A large check, I might add, this baby is expensive to do.

We went minimal so setup was a breeze. Had the same fantastic booth as last year, right by the entrance.

The show really looked different. Our historic section had really contracted this year, perhaps some politics involved, all I know is that a lot of the normal dealers were missing, Goss, Karges, Trotter, David, etc. Nary a single impressionist painting to be found anywhere, very little early California, with very few exceptions. The worm has turned and where it's going, god knows?

M.S. Rau had its normal Rockwell and Corot, didn't look quite as amazing as last year but they still had some pretty heavy firepower and I am sure turned several trillion ducats.

Chris Beetles from London brought some amazing original Beardsley and Rackham drawings. Tom French had a small Bellows oil and a Hopper drawing which I never got a chance to look at. Steve and I focused on mid century abstract, I had early works by Goings and Thiebaud and people were I think, quite impressed although not to the point where they were forking over large wads of cash yet. Steve's Staprans was I think the hit of the show.

The contemporary section dwarfed our own and didn't impress me all that much. Arcadia brought great stuff, but not quite as nice as last year and somewhat more somber. I liked the Frostig collection of small portraits. Some of the work in the section was derivative, designed to shock and occasionally even rather shoddy. But hey, it's a big world and it takes all kinds.

If you lack inspiration you can always sell off chunks of the popular culture.

The crowds were incredible, most people I have ever seen at a show in 20 years. Waves and waves of them. Thousands, injecting themselves into the room in a strange peristalsis.

I tried to engage everyone with my customary incessant patter but it was like the chinese flooding the korean dmz, too many bodies, I finally gave up. Thousands of people swarming, I had to leave the booth several times just to come up for air.


Of course, I was in La-La land and the people watching was fantastic. The woman standing in front of the Picasso in my booth above is Mrs. Beverly Pink from Pink's hotdogs fame. Lovely woman, very friendly, her family has been selling the dogs with the snap for over 75 years.

Los Angeles has a lot of very snappy dressers and I snapped a bunch of pics. Men and women dressed up like peacocks and peahens, the males in the species perhaps even more flamboyantly decked out than the females.

It was a lot of fun meeting the great multitudes of art lovers and engaging them in conversation.

This woman had quite an earful.

We even met the original Gidget, Kathy Kohner Zuckerman.

Frankly, I need a new cell phone. The camera on my HTC sucks and sometimes it is all I have. Here is a terrible picture of two old geezers who walked into my booth. One of the guys was wearing a red cap with a pot leaf. I asked him if he had any stash to share and he said I would have to pony up some cash first. Funny dudes.

We met all sorts of people. Beautiful people, not so beautiful people, kept women, kept men, songwriters, bartenders, actors, thespians, lesbians, thespian lesbians, lots of artists that wanted representation (sorry, I would explain, only handle the dead ones with two exceptions. not emotionally cut out for it…) photographers, bankers, wealthy, poor, tall, short, we saw them all.

Lots of friends stopped by, Jill and Byron, Genser, Linda and Joe, Gary, Bob, Roy, John Morris, of course, Glenn and Lena Bray, Joe and Cindy K, Michael Stutz and his mom, Lance and Donna Jost, Gordon Mclelland, Mark Hilbert, Eric B with George Barris son, Helen and Buzz, Rich Levendoff, who else?  Genser says the blog is a little bit overkill, he knows way more about my life than he needs to!

Found out that my Ed "Big Daddy" Roth drawing was not done by Wes Bennett as I thought. According to his son Dennis, it is an extremely rare piece by one Richard Ash, who went on to work for Stanley Mouse. Asheye. They say it is quite valuable.

And some of the people were indeed wonderful. The two girls from Seattle, and the songwriting chanteuses above, the adorable artist girl from NOLA who was tired of tending bar and waiting tables and is just looking for a fucking break. Really enjoyed the people this week, even though some of them confided that they were actually miserable and lonely. Los Angeles can be a tough city.

We saw great outfits and great sticks (legs.) Lots of checked patterns, which I didn't know were suddenly so popular. This gay designer is like Hello- it's been two years already! Always the last to know… Steve got stopped on the street for his pendleton jacket which I guess are collector's items now. Live long enough, it all comes back.

Oh yeah, food. It's all starting to melt together and I can't vouch for the chronology but here goes. First
night we drove over to Chinatown and ate at Mrs. Ha Ha's Mayflower restaurant. I can't say it was great but it wasn't bad. The salt and pepper shrimp were fantastic. Delicious duck wonton soup, if a little sparse with the duck. Very ordinary pork fried rice.

Talked the parking cop out of giving us a ticket after dinner. Or I should say, Steve did.

Next day lunch we drove to Montrose to meet Robert Bijou at La Cabanita, my favorite mexican restaurant in the world. Instead of my customary chuletas (thin pork chops cooked in a pasilla chili sauce with sour cream) I had a large and flavorful bowl of red posole and a chicharron taco which was crunchy and simply amazing!

Steve had sopas, one chicken, one pork and one picadillo.  Not sure about Robert, ordered what I thought were pedestrian sounding tacos. Not going to lecture him, his lovely wife Irma is Mexican and he certainly knows his way around the cocina.

The next morning we had breakfast at Phillipes. What a place, going back there with my film camera, it is a trip into the distant past. Coffee prices have gone up, now it will set you back 45 cents for a cup of joe.

Where else did we eat? Well we had sushi around the block at the place on Flower that was decent. Went to Langers one morning for a great breakfast. Salami omelet pancake style and rye bread. Steve had lox, eggs and onions.

Jodi, a great wisecracking waitress who gave as good as she got. Langers, the only deli that I know of with a James Beard award.

On the way back we drove down Broadway and marveled at some of the old theaters. I am going back with my photo group to take pictures next month. Most impressive was the Million Dollar Theater, built by Grauman in 1918.  Did a little research and discovered that its wonderful monumentation was sculpted by the famous California southwest artist Jo Mora.

Wild stuff!

We ate at the Pantry the last day. Terrible. Made the mistake of ordering steak and eggs. Poor cow lived a sad life. Beware. And staff with attitude.

Steve and I also ate at El Cholo one day. My mother was raised in a home next door to the original El Cholo on Western
and I wanted to eat a meal in her honor now at the end of her road.

A fantastic meal, we both had burritos filed with lobster, scallops and shrimp in a chipotle cream sauce. Mom would be proud. I am going to find her picture in front of the restaurant and post it soon. Service was fantastic, margarita and food at El Cholo were simple but excellent.

Bopped over to Arcadia one night to see Bill W. and Cam. We ate at an old warhorse near Santa Anita Racetrack called Peppers. I opted for the pear salad, feeling slight pangs of guilt for the week of gluttony. At some point you have to mix in a salad.

I enjoyed the city this time. Need to come up here and shoot. Planning on taking some guys, hope it doesn't screw me up.

That's pretty much my story. If I can think of anything else I will add it and you'll probably never know. Peace. A nice week, learned a lot and met some great folks, ate some decent grub. Sold some stuff and bought some great stuff. Thassit!


Sanoguy said...

Sounds like a great week!! The photo safari should be fun! We won't slow you down too much!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link on "Gidget". That was interesting reading about her story and the legends she used to hang out with at Malibu.
BTW if I like a post on your blog I'll come back and read it two or three times. I've noticed you'll come back in and edit, add or delete something, tweak the photos, etc. I like how after you post, it's stiil a work in progress. Point is, yeah we notice.

Kent Borsch said...

Thanks for the memories. Great blog and pics. El Cholo is great. Haven't been there since the early nineties. Used to take the train to LA, go to Phillipes then a dodger game. And of course the Pantry. Used to have a housewares showroom on S Broadway in the eighties , and had to do a breakfast there. Man could they sling it and lines down around the street.

Take care my friend and go Aztecs.


What a wonderful journey you took me on........I loved every word. Wicki

North County Film Club said...

Lots of memories here- including last years L.A. Art Show. Also Phillipes (love it), Langers, The Pantry (feel the same as you about it- saw Sonny Bono in line there wearing a Sonny Bono jacket.) El Cholo (used to love it and ate there often- Nancy says she used to go there before they had valet parking- they have valet parking???.
P.s. Count us in for the safari.

Anonymous said...

Your photos are great, Robert. You really made the most of your downtown LA experience. I will post them on our LA Art Show facebook page if you share them with me. So glad you could come and be a part of the fair.

Blue Heron said...

Thank you, Allison. Mail me your email to azurebirds at gmail.com and I will send you a bunch more pics next week. NO rest for the wicked, doing a show in Santa Barbara this week.