Friday, 20 August 2010

Stardust in My Eyes

"We are made from material that was created in stars."
This is the cherished quote I took away with me which I had read just before we left the Griffith Observatory atop a hill in Griffith Park Los Angeles. Our friends had told us to make time for a visit at some point, then on one sunny tuesday afternoon they called us up and invited us to join them at Trails cafe for a coffee to start with. We found the tiny little kiosk, surrounded by hanging fairy lights and trees. There was nothing about the tiny little hut that would suggest it would be pumping the immediate air with mouthwatering smells of home cooked goods. Organic, vegan, home cooked goods. Mouthwatering, must-try-one-of-everything goods. Great coffee to boot. After we had scoffed in the afternoon sun we began our climb up to the breathtaking views of Los Angeles and its surrounding mountainous, palm dotted rockiness. The sun was getting ripe for setting casting that luscious summer early evening glow across everybody's faces. We climbed the steps of the observatory, all white Deco stark lines - a temple to science. From the top terrace we take turns to look at the moon from telescopes, making a mental note to return one evening to gaze at the stars from the enormous telescope inside. For free! This place was what Griffith had intended to be a place where all folk could aim for the stars. What better place than Hollywood? I don't think you can spend even a little while at a place like this, perusing the exhibits inside attempting to cast light on the abstract mathematics that make our worlds turn, without leaving pondering on the mechanics of our universe. Suffice it to say I had that faraway look plastered over my face well into the next few days.

How different the view of the world from up there on those wonderful hills to the sun parched world of Disney where we had spent the morning. Yes tuesday saw the clan get mickey mouse printed passes to enter part of the empire of the mouse. Once again, meeting some of the friendliest security guards who directed me beaming from ear to ear to a place where we could park our vehicle. In the shadow of seven stone gigantic "dwarfs" arranged to appear as if they were holding up the entire office building. Picture the columns of a Roman temple and you're half way there. Through the doors to an open courtyard and then up to the second floor where we were greeted by a kindly receptionist. Walking past several imposing framed posters of recent movies she tells us to wait on the comfy chairs and then brings us hot chocolates juices and water. Sammy hops up and down like its Christmas and asks me if I would like to be in a movie and which one and point to the picture of the one I want to be in. I quickly turn the conversation around to him. I have a feeling I may start waxing lyrically on my ambitions just as the casting director pops around the corner and that's not part of my big plan. No you see, in my fantasy plan, casting lady pops out from around the corner all smiles and maternal joy takes one look over my 5ft something form has a moment of inspiration and casts me as in a roving gypsy movie currently in pre production. What actually happens is a lady pops out from around the corner all New York joy sporting New York Yankee sneakers which Cory immediately catches and strikes up conversation about (takes a true fan to know a true fan). She flashes me a big grin, one to Sam and off we go into her office. It is strewn with Yankee regalia and comfortable. We chit chat on this and that and nothing and everything, she unhurried and curious, straight talking and helpful in her advice. She tells me to find an agent. To move here if I really want to work here and that she could see me playing a young mum. She also tells me I don't look quite as ethnic as I think and that America is a melting pot (actually the official more inclusive term is salad these days) and so I could be one or other of many things. A spring onion perhaps? The garlicky vinaigrette? At the end of our chat she asks me how old Sam is and I notice the faint glint of Mama Rose way way back in my mind. I just don't think we could fit his own movie schedule into both of our at the moment. At least in our parallel lives that is. She also leads me towards the employee store so as to spoil the little tyke a bit. when we eventually do find the little shop, up on Goofy drive there at the junction with Mickey ave by the topiary mouse there, the boy has been so sheltered form the Disney hype that the bits and pieces mean very little to him. He looks at and touches almost everything and leaves without a fight. I wonder how long this reluctance to children's marketing will last. As long as possible me hopes.

We walk out into the midday sun, watching all the Disney-ites hit their lunch hour but think better on staying to eat at the cafeteria lest we over stay our welcome. I take in the twenties cream painted brick building surrounding the stages and am zapped back to that golden age of Hollywood. There certainly is still a little stardust in the air here. We say our au revoirs to a bronze Mr Walt suspended in the middle of a heart to heart with the mouse himself. I click a few pictures of the dwarves for prosperity. Sam announces he wants to be Grumpy. I tell him give me half an hour stuck on the freeway and he'll be a natural.

We narrowly screeched into the Farmer's Market car park with just enough time to get something to eat and send Cory on his way to his meeting of the day. Sam and I queue up for Indonesian delights, Daddy inhales a slice and is off into the afternoon sun. Boy and I wile away the time gawking at everything, buying a little bit of everything from stickers to dried pineapple. After half an hour of dipping our cooked feet into the cool waters of a fountain we indulge in a free trolley ride up and down the outdoor mall called The Grove. The drivers are all a-dandy with their grey suits and hats, calling out "all aboard!" to the young passengers sat with their feet barely touching the ground faces reflected in the sparkling brass finishes on the wooden vehicle. We pass up along the tracks. Stop for a minute and then come back. The ride takes all of 10 minutes. Of pure joy, especially for the boy. Dad bounds back an hour later all excitement after the meeting concluded with the managers saying they would love to work with him. A possible passport to Hollywood. Cory dons his serious lets work out a plan face and for the next few days we talk about what this would entail, whether it is something we truly desire or merely the buying into the fantasy world Hollywood magics. Are we just under the sprinkle of its dream fest or is this really a place we could live a great life, amongst like minded friends, lovely children, fabulous outdoor spaces to frolic in and sunshine for our souls? Third date infatuation stage. Fun while it lasts.

All of twenty hours as it turns out. For the next morning we receive an email from the managers effusively apologising for not being able to represent Cory at this time in view of his nomadic work at the moment. In all intents and purposes they are saying that it is not worth them selling him in the build up to pilot season because he is not as of yet, definitely coming back here in the new year. All this before coffee. Ay-yai-yai. Hows about that for a dose of reality? The ups and downs of our business certainly force you to find your metal. I received similarly direct advice from another casting director this morning, when she told me that to work in this town I need me an agent and a union. Homework time.

In I waddled to her offices and found a quiet spot to wait. In the fifteen minutes or so in which I distracted any nerves with people watching I counted about ten stunningly beautiful women all one foot narrower and two feet higher than me strut in every know and then, headshots in hand, scripts scribbled with notes. Hair ironed excruciatingly straight. Heels. Lots and lots of them. Way way way up to the sky. They are all dressed like a mafioso's doll including the lady next to me. Blue Eyes Blow Dry pokes her head into the office door (despite the signs all over the room that say please wait to be called) asking for scissors and sorry to be a "pain in the butt." She returns to attach her three different headshots onto her resumes. She then uses the return scissor journey to try and make an impression. On the third pop in she asks whether she is indeed in the right spot. She is here for a general she says and is lead back to her seat. Her Mafioso look is not for a part after all. She's probably wondering why the woman next to her is a. staring and b. dressed like a gypsy. It's all part of my gypsy plan I tell Cory when he looks at me a little puzzled when I shimmy'd out in my outfit of choice for the meeting earlier this morning.
"What?!" I ask, in that mine field tone of a woman that lets anyone know whichever answer she hears will inevitably be the wrong one.
"It's very...specific." he offers. Very very hesitantly. I Half yell back that today I feel like a gypsy so why don't I bloomin dress like one with the sequinned skirt and all and that's that.
"I should dress how I feel!" I exclaim
"How do you dress PMT?" he answers calmly.
I would have thrown something had it not been so near the truth. Or so funny. I throw on a crazily huge bangle for good measure instead. Thank you Patricia.

I think something about hanging around the Getty museum has jangled the free spirit within. I have never been to a more beautiful museum. It began with a ride aboard a two car white tram which glided us up the hill to the main entrance through the craggy countryside past a sweeping view of Los Angeles in the near distance below hazy in the lunchtime smog. Leaving the tram we were ushered to a huge stone terrace with the buildings of the museum all glass, stone and modern art surrounded us. The hot stone underfoot and the familiar Mediterranean fauna about us filled the air with gorgeous smells. The bright blue of the sky crowning the caramel stone and the luminous greens of everything growing about us was simply beautiful. Onward we went accompanied by our cousins from Cory's mother's side to meet their Granpa who tells me with a cheeky giggle that he will turn 90 in April. He cracks jokes until we leave some hours later. Sammy at this point is sound asleep and remains so through our lunch in the most lofty cafeteria I have ever been in stocked with an impressive choice of freshly cooked loveliness. We all catch up a little over food and then feast on the photographic exhibition. I drink in the images of Mexican Menonites before Sam finally wakes needing some lunch. We head back out to the warm afternoon and watch the folk go by instead. Many of whom stroll up and fold up the free parasols before entering the gallery. There are purposeful Japanese groups, loquacious Italians, Texan families and boy. Face smeared with good ole fashioned peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

We spend the next hour strolling the grounds. I gaze up at the bouganville trained to climb up and out of the top of huge iron wig wam structures. I stop and listen to the water cascading down the stone creek down to a waterfall that flows into a moat surrounding a huge winding hedgerow maze. Curving arund the sides of which are little pockets of english garden all dahlia and arched trellis. A pang of homesickness. Wendy, my cousin and I, whose Dad has been entertaining us all, sit on a bench to enjoy the floral air whilst her daughter Jess (last seen in the back alleys of the University of Michigan) frolics uphill with the boy and Cory chats with Barry, Wendy's husband. Reluctantly we begin the walk back, so peaceful is the little enclave we have found, just in time to squeeze in an ice cream. We sit slurping under a triple height ceiling that creates a lofty terrace with vast views of the pacific and the blue blue sky. It is nothing short of a religious experience to be in this place.

I think Cory felt something similar watching all the auditionees leave after their auditions this morning, struts and blow drys still perfectly intact, or when we arrived at the park later this afternoon for an impromptu run about just as the entire city's worth of yummy mummies were having their monthly get together. It was like watching a commercial for motherhood. I had to take off my sunglasses and wipe them what with it being in soft focus an' all. I don't think I have ever seen so many happy babies and mummies in one place. Ever. I gazed away the rest of the afternoon watching father and son wrestle about, collect little friends and leave not without several tears from both for a spot of dinner. Boy all sand and filthy hands and feet. Dad, all sand and filthy hands and feet. Mum, all wannabe filthy hands and feet somewhat handicapped by the bloomin gypsy skirt. Still, got to run about a bit, nosey on the Russian family doing their quiet reading practice next to the playground (I felt for those jiggling kids!), admire the toned mamas of studio city and attempt and royally fail to complete one pull up on the metal gym equipment (a.k.a grown up playground).

Tomorrow we plan to head back to the Griffith sanctuary for breakfast with Sammy's favourite little lady and a spot of tree hugging with our friends. In the background Cory is cackling to the roasting of David Hasselhoff on tv. Boy is conked out to the world dreaming perhaps of American football, flips and his favourite little girl. Me? I'm enjoying the fact that I have not set the oven a light like last night or had to listen to Cory murder a giant Californian cockroach. As we stepped into bed last night I catch him looking at me like he has bad news and does not know whether to tell me. I obviously ask him to tell me. Actually I think I just ask if it's under the bed. he nods. "Spider? Rat? Tell me it's not a beetle..."
I barely catch the beginning of his nod and I am out the door barking out orders for him to usher it out far far far away from hysterical old me. They touch a prehistoric phobic nerve within. I don't like to admit it, but at midnight I am not in the best place to address and conquer fears. I just want to go to sleep. I hear Cory brandish what sounds like a sword then his tip toes punctuated with loud swoops of what i realise must be the poker (now I remember hiding the fireplace tools in the closet at our last party away from the three year olds). Many swipes needed it would seem for those who survive nuclear explosions. The victim is then swept through and up into the waste disposal. It's not humane. It's nothing to be proud of. I just hope the extended family have not moved in by mistake.

I've got to stop writing. The Hoff has started singing and someone needs to take charge of that remote....

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