Big and Little Apples

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Somebody asked me if all we did in New York was see shows. First of all, I wish I could afford to see as many shows as I want, and really, there is only one matinee and one evening performance per day, so no. In addition to Broadway, we went to Central Park, Grand Central Station, the new Highline Park, a Radio City Music Hall tour, and the 911 memorial fountains. The old World Trade Center water footprints are quite stunning, but I couldn’t bring myself to go into the museum. That day is still seared in my brain.

Also, I forget that New York has as many stars as Los Angeles. Upon arrival, we saw Nick Carter walking the backstreets and the plumber from Desperate Housewives checking into our hotel. We also saw Broadway star Christopher Sieber talking to someone on a street corner, like a hooker. Albert also got us tickets to The Daily Show, so we got to see Jon Stewart live and in person, and he is hysterical. He does a little Q&A with his audience before the show, and he is friendly, smart, and quick witted. We were also in the city during Comic Con, so there were costumed characters everywhere, but they blend seamlessly with the locals. Darth Vader, in all black from head to toe and sporting a dramatic cape, is definitely a New Yorker. I’m still tired from our non-stop vacation activity.

Speaking of stars, last week Albert and I were at The Grove and I spotted Tilda Swinton walk past us. We had just purchased a pumpkin at The Farmers’ Market, and when I mentioned to Albert who had just walked by us, he started chasing her. Rarely does he get that excited that he would chase a celebrity, particularly while carrying a large orange squash. He never caught her, which is probably for the best, because I’m pretty sure Tilda would have frowned upon being hunted by a man wielding a large pumpkin.

Last week, Albert and I were enjoying some Tuesday tacos at Malibu Fish Grill. I got up to get some of their amazing fat-ass tartar sauce, when I passed a little girl in a stroller. I can’t pass by a baby and not say hello, so I bent over to chat with the child who was less than two years old, and said hi to the mother. The little girl looked at me, pointed and yelled, “apple!”

I tried to continue the conversation with, “So, did you have an apple for lunch? I had a fish taco.” I sound like a strange man-baby.

The mother looked at me, held up her iPhone, and said, “Apple. She wants your phone.”

Oh my God, this little baby wants my technology. She doesn’t even know that an apple is fruit. How am I going to have a meaningful conversation with a tech-obsessed stupid baby that can’t even tell me what she had for lunch? Geesh.

This week Albert and I went to see the national tour of Pippin at the Pantages. If you are a fan of this show, it is by the far the best production of it I have ever seen. The singing and staging are a fantastic non-stop circus act. Los Angeles also has the original lead, and the Tony-winning Andrea Martin reprising her role as Berthe. Martin’s well-deserved applause for her trapeze number actually stopped the show, only the second time in my life I have ever seen anybody do that (the other time being Eden Espinosa in Brooklyn). With all that said, Pippin is still an overly simple, abstract, conceptual piece that is not for everyone. Act one is better than act two, and the lead is so whiney that Albert cringes every time he hears the name…Pippin.

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Hair-Do

NoMoney

First let me show you a gift my friend Chris gave me the first day I published my book Bring a Bag of Ice. I love the brutal honesty of all my friends.

Summer in Los Angeles is ridiculously rocked with entertainment, and I’m pooped. Let’s start with the Hollywood Bowl, which I attended twice last week. First a classical show of movie scores from composers of The Americas, conducted by our amazing Gustavo Dudamel. You can get seats for classical nights for less than the price of a movie, and last Thursday we spent a beautiful night under the stars listening to the scores of Battlestar Galactica, Angels in America, Beasts of the Southern Wild and more.

We returned to the Bowl on Saturday night for an all-star production of Hair, which was fantastic. The cast was lead by Kristin Bell, Hunter Parish of Weeds, and a couple of the Glee girls. The standouts were Amber Riley, the fierce black girl that sings “White Boys,” and the very sexy Benjamin Walker as Berger. We are in a severe drought in California, so it was perfect when the Hair tribe actually conjured rain for the second act of the show. Some of the audience was less than thrilled, but we brought wigs, so our heads stayed dry as the hippies let the sunshine in.

While I’m on live theater, lets go downtown to talk about the shows at The Center Theater Group. Last night we saw Buyer and Cellar, which is a hysterical one man show starring Michael Urie. The Ugly Betty star plays a struggling actor working in Barbra Streisand’s private underground Malibu mall. The play is fiction but the combination of strange truth and great writing make for a very, very funny night.

The complete opposite of good theater is happening next door at The Ahmanson. I love musicals and I’m a huge Queen fan, so we went to see London’s long running production of We Will Rock You. This is one of the worst jacked-up jukebox shows I’ve ever seen, and I can’t warn you enough to avoid this tour at all costs. It is like terrible children’s theater for adults, yet I literally couldn’t figure out what was supposed to be happening through most of it. Apparently people would get into situations with space villains, I couldn’t tell you what or why, and to get out of the predicaments somebody would yell, “We’re gonna rock!” and that would solve the problem. Repeatedly. It is worse than the similarly named Rock of Ages but in space and combined with the annoyance of Cats. Imagine the hell.

If bad theater isn’t your thing, we also caught a horrible art show. We saw the Mike Kelley show at MOCA downtown before it closed and found that it was a huge amount of work, none of which I liked. I suppose he’s “good” because art critics say he is and half of my friends loved it. I felt it was the work of a lazy hoarder. Much of the show looked like he raided a thrift store and then scattered things about the room, which I do in my garage but don’t charge people to enter. He must have been a charming man…to get people to buy into this bullshit.

We have also been checking out some summer movies to avoid the Hollywood heat. We saw the ape movie, which is good, but I preferred the last James Franco movie to the current Keri Russell one. We also saw Guardians of the Galaxy, which is also a very good blockbuster. For something a little more unique I recommend Snowpiercer, starring Tilda Swinton in one of my favorite performances of the year. This movie is totally bizarre, not for everyone, but wonderfully visionary. I would describe it as a post-apocalyptic dark comedy action adventure with amazing sets and costumes, but it’s really just a crazy train ride. We also went to a premiere screening of The Hundred-Foot Journey, starring Helen Mirren, which opens tomorrow. It’s a feel-good, food-porn, rom-com and I loved it. Two big thumbs up, but make sure you don’t go hungry or it will be a torture film.

I read in the news today that a special education teacher in Oklahoma showed up to her first day of school drunk and without pants. Doesn’t that make you feel better? You are probably not wasted and naked at work, and it’s unlikely your kids are being educated in Oklahoma.