Another extract from The Forest Dark … set in L.A.’s Biltmore Hotel

•October 22, 2010 • 4 Comments

OK folks, it’s Friday, my brain is fried or dead or something. Maybe it’s the weather. The politicians have temporarily exhausted me and I’ve already voted. Remember, D is for forward, R is for backward. Good thing to remember on November 2.

In the meantime, here’s more from the novel I’m writing, The Forest Dark. Love L.A.’s Biltmore Hotel, so I set a bunch of scenes there. Here’s one. It’s July, 1984…

Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles

Senator von Eiff had called KCET and left a message that Eden should meet him downtown, at the Gallery Bar in the Biltmore Hotel. Eden thought it odd, if not ominous, that he hadn’t asked to speak directly to her since she was present when he called.

This is certainly a wonderful day, and it’s about to get better.

She took the Sunset Boulevard RTD downtown. Normally, she would’ve asked Noah for a ride but he was finally home, and sleeping, which is just what he should be doing, she thought.

Ronnie and he thought it funny that she didn’t drive. Eden had taken the bus all her life and didn’t see what the point would be in learning a skill she wouldn’t need again when back on the east coast.

From the outside, the Gallery Bar at the Biltmore emitted a golden glow, as if those entering had gone to heaven. Or, if her father was in there, maybe it was the fires of hell.

Rhino stood in the doorway wearing the usual black suit, his meaty arms folded tight over his chest.

“Where were you the other day?” Eden asked. “I waited in the gate at the Coliseum just like I was told to, just like a good little girl.”

His rings reflected the light from the chandelier above, making her blink.  “The senator is waiting,” he said, cocking his head toward the bar’s interior. “Go on.”


Eden could see her father sitting in a dark brown club chair at the far end of the room, facing her, his head framed by an enormous arched mirror, like a halo.

*   *   *

“I’ve already ordered you some cold California chardonnay, from a Santa Ynez Valley winery, a place called Bridlewood,” Henry said to her as she approached. A surprisingly hip charcoal sport jacket complimented his perfectly combed silver hair.

“Thanks, Daddy. It’s been a long day, I’m thirsty.”

He patted the arm of an ancient leather sofa next to him. “Did you park in the hotel garage?”

She sat and glanced around. Unfortunately, cocktail hour denizens either hadn’t shown up yet or had gone elsewhere. Perhaps everyone was so engrossed in the Games they didn’t have time to drink. She counted one elderly couple wrapped up in conversation across the polished wood floor.

“No – I took the bus,” she said. “It’s really easy from the studio and you know I don’t have a license.”

The server, a young woman – so short Eden thought at first she was a child wearing blue eye shadow – put the wine and what looked like a Gibson martini in front of her father, then soundlessly left.

“Are we still in that place?” he said, holding up his drink, inspecting the cocktail onion inside the glass, “that obnoxious place where you want to be treated like a child, instead of the daughter we raised you to be, who – and like it or not – is a young ambassador for our state?”

“Oh, Daddy – ”

“Case in point. My eldest daughter, almost 25, calls me ‘daddy’ and doesn’t have a driver’s license. Do you even know what we make in Michigan?”

Eden now wished Rhino had come in with her.

“Cars, Dad, we make cars in Michigan.”

“We make cars! Exactly! I would have preferred for you to tell me you’d leased something like a Caddy, a nice cream Coupe de Ville or one of the big Fords, and parked it out front.” He took a tiny sip of the martini. “Instead, you tell me you took the goddamn bus.”

Eden’s head was going to explode.

She gulped down the chardonnay, which wasn’t in a very big glass anyway, and caught the eye of the tiny waitress, who was watching them from the bar.

“Yes, all right, you can have another. Yes, of course, I’ll pay for it,” he said. “You may need several, as I want to now hear the story of why you could not sit with your mother and your sister at the Olympics.”

Usually it’s not this unpleasant, she thought. Her father did have that great sense of humor. She’d even read once in The New York Times that Democrats thought he “was witty.”

“I’m sorry about that,” Eden started. “I ran into a friend – actually, he was a friend of both mine and Noah’s, the guy you met – and we got to talking and seeing some of the backstage production stuff, you would not believe – ”

“No excuses, Eden. You’ve ignored us for the good part of a week now and your sister is here to specifically see you.”

“But I was working! I’ve been doing this internship you love so much, practically all day and all night!” Eden noticed that the old couple across the room was not conversing with each other anymore, but rather being entertained by the von Eiff family.

She was being too loud.

Henry von Eiff often had that effect on her.

“An internship I can end with a quick phone call,” he said. “And this hanging around with homosexual boys, I really don’t think that’s a good idea, is it honey? We brought you up better than that.”

The waitress was back with another glass of wine for Eden. “Are you finished, dear?” she said, putting the fresh one on the low cocktail table.

She nodded to the woman, but could feel herself begin to shake. This is just what he wanted and she would not lose it in front of him, in front of these strangers.

“They are my friends, Daddy. What would you know about it anyway?”

“Henry? I thought you said the two of you would be coming up to the suite for cocktails.”

Eden wasn’t usually overjoyed to see her mother, but right now was an exception.

Just like she owned the place, Madelyn von Eiff walked across the bar toward them. The way she held her cigarette out, from a distance a person might think she was a skinny transvestite doing a Bette Davis impersonation, just like one Eden had seen in a video at Revolver.

Her dress was powder blue and perfectly matched her shoes. Her blond hair with its streaks of gray was so precisely flipped and hard she could’ve used it as a weapon if she needed to. Behind her was Barbara was almost an afterthought, like a period.


That’s it for now, a work still in progress… have a great weekend everybody!



Eating On $20 For One Week – woman proves it’s possible

•October 21, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Link to: Eating On $20 For One Week – Houston Restaurants and Dining – Eating Our Words.

Gimme some black beans

OK, so I’m not excoriating Republican candidates today. I’m building my arsenal, it’s going to be like hitting the side of a barn.

In the meantime, I’m back on frugality, especially regarding one of my favorite subjects, food. I happened upon Katharine Shilcutt’s piece in the Houston Press blog. She figured out how to Eat on $20 a week. I found it interesting (and helpful!) in particular because it focused on her own household of one.

My grocery bills normally run probably around $50 – $60 a week if I’m honest, and that doesn’t include meals out – which in Palm Springs comes to only one or two a week. Large parts of my food budget go to things I’m always trying to get off of: diet rootbeer soda, for instance – I buy 6-packs for around $2.50 at Fresh ‘n Easy or TJ’s and they go in a day or so depending on how hot it is.

I also like “artisan” bread and buy the La Brea Bakery brand whenever I can find it here. Typically that does cost more, but it’s SOOO much better than anything else. I do buy a lot of fresh and frozen berries (depending on season) that I use in smoothie concoctions along with yogurt and (sometimes) milk.

Lately, I’ve been trying to eat more locally and sustainably so haunt the Farmer’s Markets in Palm Springs – one at the Thursday night Street Fair (Villagefest), the other on Saturdays outside the Camelot Theater. Typically, I will buy greens for salads at those and whatever fresh vegetable they have in season that I can figure out how to cook. Some things fare better with me: yams, for instance, are much easier to deal with than leeks, which I didn’t really know what to do with.

The best value I see in Katharine’s weekly haul is the oatmeal. It is amazingly cheap, and I’m lucky because I like it a lot. I wouldn’t buy the chicken, as I really don’t like meat or poultry all that much. Instead, I add black beans to lots of things, getting my protein there. I also make batches of brown rice and freeze individual portions since it goes bad so fast.

But one thing I have noticed is that Farmers Market fresh vegetables last longer. Maybe because they don’t have to travel from New Zealand or Chile to reach us?

I’d love to hear other stories on how people save on food.

Frugal Living: Some Top Ways We Waste Money in 2010

•October 20, 2010 • 3 Comments

Link to: 9 Top Ways We Waste Money 2010.

Brown-baggin' lunch

I’m so guilty of spending my almost non-existent income on some of these things: big targets for me include those energy drinks – somehow and for some reason I almost always have to have a low-carb Monster when I go to the gym ($3 at the gym, $1.50 at Ralph’s or Fresh ‘n Easy on the way there). I totally do not need these. Of course, I like the buzz.

I’m also guilty guilty guilty on the coffee – though I will say, I’ve never fallen prey to all the stupid high fat high calorie extra special super duper Starbucks drinks, and rarely have anything there other than a medium sized coffee (I REFUSE to adopt their lexicon for small, medium and large – go to hell).

What else – I WAS a good brown-bagger, except when I got lazy. Funny, now that I work at home every day, going out for the occasional lunch is such a treat. Luckily, Palm Springs is full of restaurants barely holding on to business so they all have specials. But usually I eat at home anyway, as it’s so much healthier.

Never fear –  I’ll be back with anti-conservative screeds tomorrow, I’m sure.

Homophobe Hip-Hop Star Gets Movie Funding!

•October 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Link to: Hedge Fund runs pics with Cheetah – Entertainment News, Music News, Media – Variety.


Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson


I was dismayed to see this trade story about homophobe Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson getting some funding to make more movies starring, well, himself.

In case you missed it, Jackson has been taken to task for his hip-hop homophobia, including tweeting “If you a man and your over 25 and you don’t eat pu**y just kill your self damn it. The world will be a better place. Lol” to his followers after the recent slew of gay teen suicides. (Read Papermag post, or another piece on homophobic hip-hop from Pulp).

Nice sentiments, Mr. Jackson.

If you look at the movies this guy is connected with, you’ll notice title words like “kill,” “die,” “gun,” and “.44.” I’m detecting a pattern here.

One of his new movie partners says, “the thing about ’50 Cent’ is that, just like in his music career, he isn’t someone who sits around and waits for things to get done…”

Apparently not. He looks to be front and center and real direct with the hate. It hasn’t gone unnoticed, asshole.

Shame on these guys – Randall Emmett, George Furla, Richard Jackson, Gary Sakwa and Daniel Ret, as well as Lionsgate for distributing. You couldn’t find a less hate-filled action star? Give me a break.

50 Cent? More like penny-ante, if you ask me.

Lost Tribes of New York City video

•October 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I’m taking a day off from railing about bullying, republican and tea party hypocrisy, or anything else in our bizarrely decaying world, to just appreciate something fun.

Andy and Carol London have found lifeforms in a few places we might have overlooked – but I think you’ll agree, they are as authentic New Yorkers as one is likely to find. I won’t be able to go out to New York this fall, so knowing it’s in good animated hands is comforting, too!

Enjoy Lost Tribes of New York City. Now, exhale and close your eyes.

Dan Savage column exposes religion’s “hidden” homophobia

•October 15, 2010 • 2 Comments

Link to: Savage Love by Dan Savage – Columns – Savage Love – Dan Savage – The Stranger, Seattle’s Only Newspaper.


Dan Savage


I loved this post of Dan Savage’s in his column Savage Love (which appears in Seattle’s The Stranger). It brings to light something I’ve long felt – that “believers” are somehow given a free ride in this country, even if their religion holds tenets that have real-time negative consequences for groups of people. For instance, the Bible, which condemns gay people in certain areas (along with a host of just about anything else you can imagine) is the text basis for a number of faiths (Judaism, Catholicism, Protestant Christianity of various kinds).

It used to be a given that “everyone is entitled to their beliefs” and that because we have freedom of religion in this country, that somehow you couldn’t criticize these beliefs, even if they resulted in bigotry, bullying, discrimination, murder, etc.

Well, I just don’t buy that. This is a country of laws, not religion. You have to man-up or woman-up and own what your religion holds so dear, and stop hiding behind the veil of First Amendment rights. And if you are a card-carrying Christian or Christianist or Jew who goes by this book, then you are open season. Your beliefs cause real harm to real people, and I’m going to make you responsible for that.

If you don’t like that, change your fucking religion.

Gavin Rossdale Admits To Gay Fling With Singer Marilyn

•October 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Link to: Gavin Rossdale Admits To Gay Fling With Singer Marilyn.




Shocking! Oh, be still my heart. I often fantasized this would be true, that Gavin Rossdale would turn out to be gay, though where it would get me I had no idea then, and certainly don’t now. It’s nice to know Rossdale played on my gay team at least for a little while – though I see no reason for him to not continue his experimenting, after all, variety is everything, right? Or something like that. Here he is on YouTube.

Can’t believe it’s Thursday already. Today’s the once-monthly L.A. Downtown Art Walk – wish I was going!

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