Thursday, May 24, 2007

Actors with Guns

Throughout my life I have participated in one form of creative endeavor or another. While working at the Pasadena Production Studios and Pasadena Camera Rental I managed to work on a couple of student films and a couple of different photo shoots. The manager of the facility was a graduate of Art Center College of Design and would on the side work as a photographer and graphic artist. Like my wife she was abhorrent to guns. So she turned to me when working on a project that required guns, lots of guns. She at the time was working for a company that produced posters and VHS covers for movies. Her expertise was in all things art and not weaponry, hence her asking me to help. She also knew that I was getting burned out on the job and she wanted to have me do something a little different. She was kind enough to think of me for this particular job. The first portion of the job took us to Glendale Gun Works, one of the biggest weapon rental facilities in Hollywood. The place was amazing. I began to ask a lot of questions about some of the weapons, I was then led to the safe room that contained some weapons of note. In that room I was shown some of the guns used in the movies by John Wayne, James Cagney, James Arness, Edward G. Robinson and a cornucopia of other stars in movies. It was incredible to see so much Hollywood history concentrated in such a small space.
Due to some technical difficulties in the form of weapons permits and permissions, Lisa Carney had to shoot the live weapons there in the facility but was allowed to take the dummy weapons off site back to the studio.

One day I met Lisa in Calabasas at the house of the owner of the production company that she was working for. She had asked me to bring my personal weapon for a quick photo shoot. I showed up in a t-shirt and shorts, but was asked to quickly change into a black long sleeve shirt. She took the standard 36 shots on a roll of 35mm film of me in various shooting and standing positions. The difference between reality and Hollywood was apparent to me in that I was asked to position the gun in ways that were not practical nor safe in a live fire or range situation; knowing that the gun was unloaded and that this was a matter of art and not accuracy I complied.
Later on the shots were used in combination with stills from the movies. My head was digitally removed and the actor’s scowling face and head were put in place. The final result much like many of the other images found on posters for movies, actor’s with guns. As Paul Newman put it “conflict resolution through AK47.” Still, it didn’t look bad, it was for dramatic impact; which after all is what Hollywood is all about. I got 100 bucks for the gig, not bad for a hard day’s work.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I’ve Re-discovered a Part of My Youth, Discovered my Mid-Life Crisis and Sold it on EBay

Aimee has started skateboarding. In three pushes she was able to do what took me 6 months of my life to learn. She in less than 10 seconds was riding a skateboard. I was showing her the basic techniques, but she was the one that was with great ease able to replicate. Then she looked at me and said, “Dad, you should fix your skateboard and we could ride together. This, from the girl that on her first try dropped into the 9 foot bowl at the Chandler skate park on Heeleys. One of the members from team Heely saw her and said, “She’s pretty good.” He was shocked when I told him that she was only 7 at the time. Now her latest endeavor is sidewalk surfing and she wants me to join her. My employees think I’m insane, my boss just thinks I’m going to break a bone.

A day or so later I slink my way around the piles of junk in the garage and I find it, tucked away behind a shelving unit, my original deck. Kryptonics made the P-Tex fiberfoam decks back in the late ‘70s. A highly unusual deck in appearance and as a ride; smooth yet forgiving, flexible yet strong, it turns out that very few of them survived over the years. At the Sidewalk Surfer, a local skate shop in Scottsdale I was told by the owner that he refuses to put wheels and trucks on the board. “A board like that shouldn’t be ridden,” he said. “Very few of them survived and it’s worth around $400.”

It turns out that he’s right. I listed it on eBay and set the reserve price at $275. As of this writing the current bid is at $305 with some 31 people actively watching the bidding. It may go above the predicted $400 mark.

With the money I’m going to get an “old school”re-issue deck, a new set of skate shoes and some protective gear. The protective gear should keep the admonishments from the ER staff to a minimum while my arm is being re-set.

The cool thing about all of this is not the money (although this is nice) but the fact that I’ll get to skate with Aimee. This, being another thing that I use to do as a kid and now my daughter too has picked up on and loves it just as much as I did. We now get to spend that much more time together.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Eating Our Way Across Southern California

At least once a year we make our way back to Southern California toe see Jill’s family and my family. As on any trip one must eat. The joy, or at least part of the joy is being able to go on what Jill has dubbed “the eating tour”

The great thing about the L.A. area are the restaurants. Whenever we head back to visit I always try to hit one of the eateries that I use to frequent. I try to avoid chains if possible. On occasion I am able to meet friends at these establishments. One of the restaurants that I try to get to is Macho CafĂ©. I’ve known the people that own the place and that still work there since I was 10. Originally the restaurant was Macho Taco and was owned and operated by Jesus Salmandiego. At one point there were 3 branches in the Los Angeles area, but over time he pulled back to just the one location in San Gabriel that happened to be the distance of a 9 iron from the place where I grew up.

I’m not exaggerating here when I say that the food is fantastic because I’m biased, but the food is incredible. The meat that is used in all of their dishes is cooked to perfection. The have a pork that they make there called Al-Pastor. The meat is cooked on a rotating spit and sliced off once it is ready. He seasonings are a loin kept family secret. I’ve been around the world and can honestly say that I have not encountered nearly anything as good. My mom noted that I inhaled my plate of tacos at the restaurant.

One thing that Phoenix lacks despite having a healthy Jewish population is a good Jewish deli. Whenever in L.A. I make it a point to find a deli and order a matzo ball soup or a kreplach (it’s like a Jewish version of chicken won-ton soup with the kreplach being the won-ton).

This last trip that we took in January we were able to visit a couple good places to eat. Of course we can visit them all, or I’d be bigger than I already am.

Happy Cinco De Mayo

Nobody seems to know what Cinco de Mayo is (other than the fifth of May).
So as a man on the street I have gone around over the years and have asked what people think that the holiday is about.

Here's what people have said:

Mexican Independance

A bunch of Mexicans had a revolution against sombody

A bunch of priests had an uprising

But the best one so far...

It's the Mexican New Year, it's the year of the Burrito!