Wednesday, March 14, 2007

L.A. Confidential

After months and weeks of work, worrying, preparation & stress, my shoot date for Los Angeles has finally come. A little background perhaps on my mindset before traveling for either business or pleasure: I worry about Booboo. I have separation anxiety. I worry about her being home alone. I also worry about flying. I have watched way too many reports on the 9/11 commission (and all the essential recommendations still not implemented after all these years) and the CNN report on TWA Flight 800 (the likelihood that a short circuit caused a spark that ignited the center fuel tank- an inherent problem in all commercial passenger planes)- so yes to sum it all up: work stress, flying anxiety- ah yes, just another neurotic child of today's environment.

Shall we begin?

Had a car pick me up at 6:30am Saturday morning, arriving bright & early for my 9am flight at JFK. Breezed right past check-in and security, no lines whatsoever...even encountered a pre-packaged vegan salad with chickpeas & vinagrette dressing at the first food counter (perfect for lunch on the plane!). Now onto the search for some coffee with soymilk and the only place that would have soymilk is good ol' Starbuck's. I am on hyper-overdrive and my senses are working at optimal speed, quickly scanning for the familiar green & zooming in on everyone's coffee containers- I locate a Starbuck's about ten gates down from mine. They have this little flag up to let you know that you are about a few feet away or so I thought...

That flag is to encourage you to stay on the super long ordering line! Honestly, that line for Starbuck's took longer than check-in & security put together that morning. But then again I had plenty of time before the plane boarded and this was the only place in the airport that carried an alternative to that mama cow secretion meant for their own babies- you know that sad drink known as 'milk' (humans are the only species that drinks another species' milk- how unnatural. And don't get me started on what dairy cows are subjected to... another interesting tidbit from that link- "There's a hunk of veal in every glass of milk. Every single veal calf is the child of a dairy cow." So if you would never consider eating veal, you should also consider giving up dairy. It's all so inter-related because those dairy cows are so used up by the age of four that they are then turned into hamburger meat. It's all so incredibly sad. So for the need of soymilk in my coffee & empathy for cows, I happily stand on this line.

So after my 15min wait, drink in hand- off to the gate for more waiting...finally boarding the plane ( I got a comfy exit row seat- though I take my exit row duties very seriously, making sure I know exactly how to manuever that emergency door as my exit row partner snoozed on.)
I made numerous work lists, read a little, knitted a lot, drank lots of apple juice, went to the bathroom a few times, worried about short circuits & sparks igniting the center fuel tank as my reading light went on and off by itself and the nonstop incessant stewardess call bell in my section rang every other minute the whole entire 6hrs flight. This was definitely faulty wiring because apparently it rang nonstop on the flight before, well nothing I could do but turn up the volume on my ipod. 6hrs later with a permanent ding in my ears, I emerged from the plane into the California sunshine.

Yes, I can see why people are so much more mellow here and especially down by the beach in Santa Monica where the hotel was. Did I mention that Fcat was the photographer on this shoot? So perfect that we get to work & stress together and as the producer, I can put us in the same room to look out for my shoot budget!

We were staying at The Viceroy, which was a cute hotel- a little too super-trendy and decor that was trying too hard to be cool for my taste, but was still cute and subtle enough in certain places. I love the griffin wallpaper by the elevators- that's partially my reflection with coffe cup in hand.


I love green and the door was green!



Cute little dog lamp- can't go wrong there...
Our room with a green chair...

Our room with a little terrace that never got used...

Here's a shot of the pool that I never got to lay out by...

However, I did get to have a quick bite by the hotel garden. The only vegan option was the portobello burger, and I had asked if it was vegan, though I suspect that the brioche bun probably had egg in it...so I left the bun off.

Fcat, in photographer mode, decided at the last minute that he really did need a prop for the shoot after all. So we were going to have to go 'shopping' for a table that he envisioned for this portrait- all I wanted to do was sleep, but I wanted to be supportive and off we went to La Brea to see if we could find this distressed table that he had in mind...like finding a needle in a haystack- so last minute and in unfamiliar territory with 2hrs before the stores closed.

Went to a whole bunch of places and we were getting cranky...didn't find the table here at this crazy junkyward kind of place, but I thought it an appropriate pic considering how slow going and hopeless our search seemed ( we were shooting the next morning at 7am)...

This little person embodied how I felt- tired, cranky and just plain tired. Also reminded me of those figures in Pompeii, people encased in soot at the moment of death. However, just goes to show, never give up because as we were ready to throw our hats in and were driving back towards the hotel, when we spotted one last place and lo and behold, inside was a table to Fcat's liking. The owner was more than happy to rent it out for our shoot and carefully into the car it went.

That evening we should have just stayed and ordered in at the hotel and get an early night's sleep for our big shoot day tomorrow, but since I was over-tired and being difficult- there was nothing on the hotel menu for me to eat. We decided that it might be good to get some air and venture out to Real Food Daily , an organic vegan resturant within walking distance from our hotel. What I am about to say is upsetting because I, like Urban Vegan hate to give a bad review to a veg place, but I did not love it here at all but I know there are people that do. Though, to the restaurant's credit and of course to their fans'credit- I may have ordered the wrong dishes or their kitchen could have been having a bad night. The restaurant was certainly packed. And we met some lovely people like Mario & Jennifer, she's an owner of Mandala Tea Room, a vegan tearoom/cafe in Scottsdale and they also have a spa & boutique called Mandala Apothecary. Everything they ordered, they liked. We, on the otherhand, fared differently.

We started with some raw rolls- similar to vietnamese summer rolls, but all raw. Was crunchy and fresh, but was on the bland side.

These were the enchiladas and they were actually tasty, but the tortillas' were on the tough side.

This was the special for the evening- a shepard's pie playfully titled, Dance With Me Van Morrisson. However, despite the name, it was just really bad. Bland mush. Even the brussel sprouts and broccoli were bland. It was terrible and I am so grateful that the non-vegan diner next to me, brought here by his vegan friend, was not able to order the special because they were out of the shepard's pie. It would have been disastrous- a non-vegan thinking that bland mush is vegan cooking.

By the end of the meal, I was happy to just grab a cookie to go. Well, I have yet to find a bad vegan cookie, let alone a bad mint carob chip cookie. Guess the time had come...

Here's a picture of the BAD cookie I met on my trip. It tasted all yeasty and grainy and just what one would imagine bad vegan baking to be like. Yucko- and there it remained in the hotel room.
After an entire night of no sleep due to our room being above the pool area which was adjacent to the super hopping trendy bar, I awoke- cranky, exhausted, but full of nervous energy. It was daylight savings and we had a 7am calltime. After countless warnings to the entire crew and double checking & triple checking, someone was bound to be late. And they were- the production motorhome & my local production assistant, but it was all fine because I adjusted accordingly and our shoot was in motion.

Our shoot was for a charity project sponsored by a watch client. We shot the very gracious actor, Timothy Dalton, who contributed his time for this project. I can see how Timothy Dalton was James Bond because he is such the gentleman and still so handsome and charming. We also had this really amazing sportscar that a wonderful owner donated his time & car for the shoot. It is a limited edition Ford GT40. What a machine! There's Fcat with camera in hand.

Here's a shot of the cool location we ended up at- under the 4th Street Bridge in downtown Los Angeles. So proud of Fcat- he really shot some amazing photos and our shoot went really well!

Would have been great to have a fun last night out- but we ate at the hotel bar and ended up passing out after what should have been a quick nap. Another early morning, a little breakfast and off to the airport...but, it's never that calm and easy is it?


Fcat and I had separate flights. And it should have been easy & straight forward, but it wasn't. There was mixup for me because even though my ticket was ticketed by one airline, it was operated by another and I was at the wrong terminal- far from the other terminal in another building with very little time to spare. The harried, panic set-in and I took a deep breath. Luckily, I happened upon the right shuttle bus as I was trying to figure out how to run across the parking lots to get to the other building, had a fairly quick moving self-check in line and then no line at all through security. Rushing headlong to my gate with enough time to buy a super expensive fruit cup, I finally breathe before boarding. Settled comfortably into the three seat row all to myself, I am relieved and ready to get home. As we fly across the varied landscapes and a bit of turbulence, from sandy dunes & desertscape...

to snow- peaked mountains...

to parched rock formations...I cannot wait to get home.

After all the hustle & bustle of the shoot and traveling miles and miles, this little furball that sleeps on her head is what I can't wait to come home to....

7 comments:

bazu said...

Doesn't it feel good to come home to an upside-down fur-bellied creature? I'm glad you're home safe and sound. Your trip certainly sounds like an adventure- thanks for taking us along! I really enjoyed looking at your photos of L.A.- sometimes (don't tell anybody!) I really miss it...

I'm so sorry Real Food Daily sucked for you! I'd like to think they were having an off day, but... even their cookie sucked?! That sounds like a deeper problem- I so agree with you, I'm glad the non-vegan didn't order the bad special!

Well, you and fcat must be happy to be back in NYC... good old gray, icy NYC...

Urban Vegan said...

Thanks for taking me on your trip. I always have separation anxiety when I leave my kitty, too, even though I know she's well cared for and enjoys getting away with things I don't let her do, like sleeping on the counter.

I used to have to fly to LA a lot at my last job--and with that weather, it's a wonder why I live in the chilly northeast.

Your room was adorable and that little doggy lamp surely must have eased your stress a bit.

Weclome home! Home and the warm kitty is always best.

scottishvegan said...

That sounds like quite a stressful trip. Glad you are back home safe and well. Must have been good to get back to that cutie kitty! That’s a shame about Real Food Daily. I really want to try there, but have never got around to it. Maybe I will get there one day…I will need to try to remember what not to order!

Melody said...

man, I soo feel your pain when it comes to flying.. as a child, I flew all the time and loved it, but after having kids, I developed a phobia of some sorts.. oy.. we went to Alaska and I had to drink a buch and I took xanax! Oy.. it wasn't pretty.

I'm so glad your shoot went well.. you lead such an exciting life!

Too bad about RFD... I HATE when restaurants suck.. and more often than not, I find that they do. I am probably too picky. Most of the time, I like my cooking more than any restaurant.

silent! anony-mouse said...

Ugh. You have adorable Monkey and I have tomato-face. Send me cute Boo pictures and perhaps my face will deflate from awww-ing. :)

I am somewhat miserable and quite quite throde, but your pictures are pppprreeetttyyyy- I am glad your work went well. I bet I would've liked that trying-too-hard-to-be-trendy room. ;) Give a squeaks to the Boyfriend (I just can't use FCAT- it's the name of our standardized throde testing) and I will definitely give you a call when I can move my mouth. :D

Veg-a-Nut said...

I am so sorry your trip to LA was such a disaster. Your room looked really nice and the food looked good. To bad it sucked. Well at least you are home, safe and sound to your gorgeous baby.

runswithdog said...

I hear you about flying. Man, I just hate it :-( I drank 3 gin and tonics and popped tylenol pm before I flew to London a few years ago. Didn't help - I was whiteknuckle the whole time. I am flying to FL in 3 weeks and already dreading it. I did buy some noise cancelling headphones so I hope they will help with the flight.

I think your hotel looks cute - I love the colors. Lastly, thank goodness for Starbucks! Don't care for the corporate omnipresence but when I am travelling, I know I can always count on them having soy milk!

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