Monday, September 28, 2009

(White) Boy in the Hood

A little over a week ago, I packed up everything I own, threw it in my car, and moved half-way across the city. From Westwood Village to what I've seen alternately called Mid-City and Mid-Wilshire, but is definitely within the boundaries of Arlington Heights.

My first thought: Where did all the Audis go? And BMWs, Mercedes, Priuses, and even late model Accords? Gone away, exchanged for tricked out 90's Acuras and old Caddies. Luckily, my 2000 Honda Civic fits in nicely with both cultures.

My plan was to trade the late night yells of drunken college students, shared room, and high rent for peace and quiet, some space, and extra funds. I found the space and the lower rent, but the peace and quiet have eluded me. The neighbors are nice enough, but families make noise, and I always have my windows open. The sounds of the 'hood flood in with gusto: Conversations in Spanish, the sound of a soccer ball slamming into the chain link fence right outside my window, the screeching bark of a dog (all the damn day long), people gunning the engines of their tricked out 90's Acuras, the seven gunshots outside my window at 2am........

Yes, that's right, seven gunshots. I had planned on noting the little foibles that come from moving from a college town to the ghetto, for instance how the middle school down the street is named after Johnnie Cochran, but once you hear seven gunshots outside your window, the quirks of living in a lower class area somehow lose their comedic value.

My sister once told me about the shots fired outside her Brooklyn apartment. I shrugged it off. My new roommates told me about the shots fired here two weeks ago. I shrugged it off. I was quietly watching the first episode of The Wire late last night and off they went. It sounded like pop-guns, but I knew exactly what it was. I immediately reached for my phone and reported it to the police... then cried like a little girl (on the inside).

Luckily, I am currently sleeping on a mattress on the floor, so I was nearly as low as I could get. I closed all the blinds, made sure the doors were locked, shut my computer (I couldn't stomach any more of The Wire) and went to sleep. Let's hope the trend doesn't continue.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Difference A Week Makes

What does it take to have the most experiential week since I've been in LA? Why another Oklahoman, of course. My best friend of many years (14, to be exact) came to LA this week, and in showing him around our fair city (and state), I was able to do and see more things myself than I have in any other week since I've been here.

For the record, we: walked around UCLA, went to the Hammer Museum, hiked Griffith Park, ate at Swingers, went to Facebook at UCB, drank beers at La Poubelle, drove up the coast, spent the night in a weird hostel, toured San Francisco, drove back, drank beers at Father's Office, watched OU beat Tulsa, saw 9 at The Academy, moved from Westwood to Mid-City, went to church, hiked and beached in Malibu, saw four shows at Hotel Cafe, strolled down the Santa Monica pier and beach, ate at Wahoo's, caught a Hitchcock double feature at the New Beverly Cinema, hung out with a friend at the 101 Cafe, and saw the Getty Center.

It feels like I picked him up a month ago. I do have some stories to tell.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Oklahoman to know: Samantha Crain

Samantha Crain, not only a fellow Okie, but a fellow Shawneean. Way to spread the Okie goodness, Sam. Not that this song has anything particular to do with Oklahoma, but Ms. Crain continually gives props to her roots, wearing them as a badge of honor; she is a true blue Oklahoman. Enjoy this incredible new song, and look for her on iTunes.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

For Shame, Los Angeles Public Library

Who will teach the children about perspective, if not for our public libraries?

The logo for the Los Angeles Public Library.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Kill Slumdog Millionaire

Tarantino is one odd duck, and I often find that watching him, or listening to him, or looking at him somewhat diminishes the value of his movies (though on the teensiest level, and only momentarily). For example, take his recent interview with Conan O'Brien [Part 1, Part 2]. Even Conan, a skilled interviewer (and especially skilled at making himself out to be the buffoon) can't rescue Tarantino from his awkwardness. We're not talking Jaoquin Pheonix awkward, but awkward.

But then there are times when Tarantino isn't promoting himself, like in the video below, when he once again reveals himself as a total badass. He's well spoken, and incredibly insightful. Unlike the Conan interview, this introduction for Danny Boyle's Sunshine is scripted, but there's no reason to doubt Tarantino's authorship, and you can see how incredibly intelligent he really is, that his movies really are a reflection of his substance, and not that he's just getting lucky every time.

And now a word on the clip itself. This is from a series of Tarantino's favorite movies since he directed Reservoir Dogs. Here, he introduces and discusses Sunshine, directed by Danny Boyle, the same Danny Boyle that directed Slumdog Millionaire.

Now is Slumdog Millionaire a terrible movie? Not really. In fact, I believe Boyle deserved his Best Director Oscar very much. The other 10 or so that movie won, it probably didn't deserve. [Full Disclosure: I am employed by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences {Fuller Disclosure: There was no reason for me to disclose that, I just think it's cool.}]

This is the problem with Slumdog Millionaire (and the same goes for Juno/Little Miss Sunshine): not that it is a feel-good movie, but that people think that because it made them feel good, it's a good movie, which is not the case. Furthermore (and this is going to sound like the most dickish statement in the history of film criticism), and this goes moreso for Juno and Little Miss Sunshine, it's a movie that makes people with poor/fair taste in movies feel like they have good taste in movies. It's kind of like being able to afford a dress shirt from Abercrombie and Fitch and thinking that means you have good fashion sense. (It doesn't.)

Tarantino instead highlights some classic Boyle (everything before Slumdog) and gives my thoughts exactly on Sunshine. In truth, it's probably not as good a movie as Slumdog Millionaire, but anyone who liked that should definitely check this one out. You'll probably hate it, but your opinions on Slumdog will be worth a lot more.

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