Half the fun of leaving one’s flat in LA is ‘celebrity’ spotting. Admittedly, that’s usually like shooting fish in a tank, although on this trip, the celebrity pickin’s have been thinner that usual. Maybe it’s because everyone is back to work now that the writers’ strike is over, putting in a dishonest day’s labour? Maybe it’s because I don’t recognize the lowlier echelons of American t.v. celebrity who practically beg to be noticed in the cafes of Los Feliz? Whatever, my only star spottings have been a person who goes by the unlikely and cartoonish name of Lance Bass (he’s the gay one from N’Sync, and his eyes are beady and he’s spooky as hell) and Judy Garland in sexy black shorts and a white t-shirt.
Did I say Judy Garland? I mean Rufus Wainwright, and I’m certain that he’s taken to showing a bit more leg and thigh since channelling Judy on stage last year. Certainly that was the case when I spied his Ladyship shopping at one of Gentry’s favourite LA haunts – American Rag on La Brea. I was fondling denim, (s)he was fingering arthouse dvds – The Short Films of David Lynch or Grey Gardens, I think. American Rag hails from San Francisco, but is now an LA institution – vintage seersucker and t-shirts, Tretorns, nice old belts, a bit of Stussy this, a bit of YMC that. La Wainwright left without purchasing, but I made an expensive pair of Levi’s my own, easily affordable through the dark magic that is the weak dollar. So robust are my British pounds over here, I threw in a pair of Ralph Lauren blue gingham Bermuda shorts. It’ll probably still be snowing or hailing or both when I return to London this week, but there’s always Cannes.
Speaking of which geriatric Riviera beach town…there was much overheard (read: eavesdropped) talk of the nonsensical variety about the film festival when I went for drinks at the bijou little Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills on Monday evening. It’s a hotel of the old school, revamped with a retro feel for the new school, with a theme throughout of cool 60s colours, plus white. It’s owned by the Kor group, the same people behind the much-heralded Viceroy in Santa Monica, so you get the picture. The Avalon’s outside bar wraps around the kidney-shaped pool (in which pool I cannot ever imagine anyone swimming, certainly not Lance Bass, though maybe Rufus Garland on a good night?) and while the waiting staff lack sharpness, the Pimm’s cocktail doesn’t. Good burger, good enough crowd, quiet and off the beaten track.
As it’s my last night in LA, I’m revisiting old favourites – I’m hopelessly attached to Skylight Books (haunt of middle-aged skaterat-lover Dennis Cooper) on Vermont, a bastion of literary hipsterism in a city which has been crushing its independent bookshops. After picking up a few photocopied and stapled zines for no good reason other than that someone has to keep art students from starving, I’ll walk down the block to the Dresden Rooms. I know, I know, this is the place made world-famous by the film ‘Swingers’ and Vince Vaughan still shows up like he owns the place (or maybe he does actually own part of it?), but you can’t beat those of jazz warhorses, Marty and Elayne, whose duet of ‘New York, New York’ isn’t bettered in any cramped, boozy lounge bar outside Hoboken. Good times.