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   West Hollywood hardware
Sunday, May 21 2000
Today Kim and I went to West Hollywood to help the goddess Anthea set up some things in her apartment there. On the way we stopped in a quiet little neighborhood on Beverly Avenue to eat at a diner simply called Red. We had Sophie with us, so with its ample outdoor seating, it was the perfect place. The staff automatically provided bowls of ice water to all the dogs hanging out. There were two in addition to Sophie, and they all went crazy whenever a doggie pedestrian walked by.
Kim was digging the neighborhood in a major sort of way. I could tell that she was suddenly dissatisfied with our West LA townhouse. In this neighborhood, the houses have yards and nobody has to park underground. Orthodox Jews wander the sidewalks in a dreamlike state and you can walk casually down to Red with your dog and have a first class meal containing as much or as little fat as you decide. The only trouble is that alcohol isn't supposed to be served outdoors. We found ourselves having to choke down the mimosas our waitress brought us by mistake.

Not long into the day, it was clear why so many movies are filmed in Hollywood. The sun shone down through the clear air with the relentlessness of a hot klieg light. I could feel my skin being exposed like Kodak paper, for a good look. The complete absence of water in the air had a similarly unhealthy effect on my sinuses. Though this sort of weather is the norm in California any time you're more than a dozen miles from the ocean, it was a whole new experience for me. I'd heard tales of the dust, heat and pollution of El Cajon (the industrial city just east of San Diego - does that mean "the ball?"), but I'd never actually been outside of a car in that town.
All in all, West Hollywood is a completely different world from West LA. It feels different, it looks different, and there are a lot more fourteen year old girls running around with dyed hair and form-fitting sheer zebra-print skirts. And, perhaps most importantly, there is the backdrop: the dry, rugged, densely-populated hills overlooking it all. From a distance these hills look like the overpopulated shantytowns of Tijuana, but I'm sure all the homes cost at least a million dollars. That's no protection from the chance of ending up at the bottom in the next El Niño.
Anthea's apartment is a spacious place with high ceilings and three floors in a split-level arrangement. [REDACTED] Sophie ran all over the place exploring, hoping perhaps to track down the elusive Willendorf, Anthea's large, fluffy striped female cat. But Willendorf was hiding under Anthea's upstairs bed and refused to come out unless Sophie left.
Anthea had a number of life-size, flattened wooden statues from somewhere in Southeast Asia. Originally she'd planned to hang them on the wall. She'd had a genuine handyman come out and hang them on her drywall, but at their earliest possible convenience they'd fallen downward, leaving nasty rips in the wall. Appraising the situation, it was pretty clear to me that the statues would have to be hung on studs. But where? Hammering on the wall, I couldn't be certain where the studs were located. The solution to our dilemma came when Kim suggested that Anthea simply lean the statues backwards into the corners where they could stare out evenly into the room and be fully supported by the floor.
Wandering through the streets of West Hollywood, particularly down Santa Monica Blvd., we kept stopping at various places for no reason obvious to me. It was like I wasn't privy to why we were doing what we were doing; it was a concern only of the goddesses.
At an Italian restaurant, we sat momentarily around an outdoor table, posing for photographs while examining the menu. The owner came out about this time and asked us if we had plans of eating there, and when we didn't immediately say yes, he suggested that we move on, that for some reason our dog was making his restaurant look unappetizing. So after we were done with our photography, Kim clip-clopped into the restaurant and handed the owner a dollar. "You didn't have to do that!" he shouted after us, but we were already walking the walk of the smugly self-satisfied to our next destination.
I don't know what I expected a hardware store to be like in West Hollywood, but the place we went to was a traditional mom and pop type operation. It came complete with dust, rust, and a well-trodden floor. It was the kind of place that doesn't mind you bringing your dog in with you. Indeed, Sophie's reception was more than simple begrudging acceptance; one of the guys working there had little bone-shaped biscuits to hand out. We bought a hammer and some picture hanging hardware.
On the way back from the hardware store, we stumbled upon a restaurant billing itself as a Russian Restaurant. I hadn't even been aware that the Russians had a cuisine! There was a big-boned blond hostess hanging out on the steps in front smoking a cigarette. Intrigued, Kim and Anthea went in to check the place out while I stayed outside with Sophie as usual. Moments later, Kim emerged, telling me I had to see this place. So I went in to look around. I'd never seen a restaurant anything like this in my life. The customers all sat shoulder to shoulder at big, long tables beneath lavish chandeliers. The place looked like the fucking Politburo. Kim wanted me to get a copy of the menu, but the big boned blond woman thought she'd said "men's room" (the two phrases sound nearly identical when you pronounce them with a Russian accent).
Back at Anthea's place, it was my task to fix her computer. The problem was that her password wasn't working, and when last she tried to do something about it, she found herself spending 45 minutes on the phone with an extremely arrogant tech support guy. It didn't take me long to determine what the problem was. Kim's account information (also on Earthlink) worked, Anthea's didn't. I called up the accounts department and quickly learned that Anthea's account had been set inactive because her credit card had maxed out. "It must have happened while I was in Paris!" Anthea declared. She handed me a different card, and moments later, her account was reactivated. I'm left with the sense that there is poor inter-departmental communication at Earthlink. You'd think the first thing a tech support guy would check would be the status of the account in question, but this is the second time I know of where people at Earthlink failed to perform this obvious check.
The last thing we did at Anthea's place was watch most of the movie The Loss of Sexual Innocence. If I hadn't been so stoned on an illegal substance reviled by mothers nationwide, I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it as much as I did. But for some reason it all worked: the ponderous pacing, the überKubrickesque absence of plot and the infuriating pretense of much of the dialogue (what exactly was the point of the story the guy told about being homeless in Paris?). Anthea kept commenting about how beautiful it was and how unfortunate it was that it sucked. Indeed, the fact that I didn't see (and still don't know) the ending has left me craving nothing.

The Simpsons were precisely up my alley tonight. The latest episode was done in the style of VH1's Behind the Music, with a series of "interviews" of Simpsons characters about their lives before and during the ascendancies of their "careers." Unfortunately, since there has been no spectacular demise of the Simpsons era, we weren't treated to the usually-savory "where are they now?" segment.

Kim sits in front of Red, a diner in West Hollywood. Kim was saying something rather "meta" about a tantra thesis she's writing.

The facade of Red.

Red is a dog-friendly place; water bowls are automatically provided for any dogs who show up.

Some of the dogs are on antibiotics and need to be called by their masters out of the hot Hollywood sun.

The Hollywood Hills overlooking Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood. As Bob Seger, who hails from the flatland of Ann Arbor, Michigan, once sang, "...those high rolling hills..."

Goddess Anthea, left, and Kim.

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