Dani: Thursday, Oct. 18, 12:24 pm
I give my carry-on and the bin holding my desert boots and water bottle a shove, and wave down the pasty TSA agent manning the body-scanning machine. “I’m opting out,” I tell him.
“You’re opting out of this technology?” he asks, incredulous.
“Yes,” I say.
“You realize this means you will be subjected to a full-body pat down?”
“I know,” I nod. “I get one every time I fly.”
“You realize an agent will be touching your inner thighs, as well as the undersides of your breasts?”
“Yes,” I sigh. “I know the drill.”
“And you’d rather go through that than step into this machine,” he gestures to the irradiating behemoth behind him.
“Yes,” I concur. “I’d rather have human touch than cancer.”
Dani: Thursday, 3:30 pm
I’m at Café Gratitude in Venice, sharing an I Am Pure salad with my friends Naada and Herwig—both heavily tattooed, both longtime Mystery School adepts, both musicians and both gorgeous. They debate the shape of the space/time continuum. My brain hurts. I think I’m getting a fever.
Dani: Thursday, 7:20 pm
I’m coloring with Bella, age 5, at the house where all my stuff lives. She won’t let me use the pink crayons because she’s bossy and a subpar sharer. Her mom pulls out a box of wellness supplies I’d forgotten I’d stored in her kitchen. Ecstatic, I swallow handfuls of raw vitamin B and dropperfuls of oxygen while Bella yells at me for using too much purple.
Rob: Thursday, 8:15 pm
On the flight to LAX, I’m seated next to a Christian teenager from Texas going to a softball tournament. I ask her what books she’s reading for English. She says she hasn’t read a book in its entirety since ninth grade, over two years ago. In her high school of more than 3,500 students, they only read excerpts from a textbook. Imagine my shock when she pulls Fifty Shades of Grey out of her backpack. “What’s that?” I ask. “Oh, my mom liked it so she gave it to me.” I go on a rant, listing dozens of books she should be spending time with instead of that one-handed read. She shrugs. I offer to send her novels by Toni Morrison and F Scott Fitzgerald, but she thinks her father would suspect that I was a creeper.
Rob: Thursday, 11:15 pm
In search of food, I walk from the West Hollywood condo where I’m staying to Dan Tana’s, the 50-year-old Hollywood landmark. It’s the only place open other than the Troubadour nightclub two doors down. I figure I can order a plate of simple spaghetti at the bar but, as soon as I sit down, I realize all bets are off. A hammered woman asks my name, starts calling me “Rabbit” and comes over to give me a sloppy massage. Dan Tana’s is a warped, Disneyfied version of old Hollywood. Gray-haired waiters in tuxes serve veal parm to young turks with models draped on their arms at tables covered in red and white checkered tablecloths. Sensing my disinterest, my new masseuse tells me I’m obviously gay or married. Mike, the curmudgeonly bartender in a monogrammed red coat, calls everyone “fuckin’ bitches.” A handsome TV star across the bar texts for 60 minutes straight, ignoring his Eurotrash date who waits with arms crossed. A German who’s trying to break into the movie business by shouting in a crowded bar yells, “If Joaquin Phoenix doesn’t win the Oscar, I’ll kill somebody!” His date tells him to please speak German. He replies that “women kiss more poodles than men these days.” My ears are full, but my belly stays empty.
Rob: Friday, October 19, 9:12 am
I find out I’m staying in the same building as Bret Easton Ellis and gossip columnist Nikki Finke, though I don’t see much of anyone except the valets who make me nervous because I don’t have a car for them to park. LA seems like a parody of itself: Walking down Doheny, I marvel at the towering palms and the abbreviated driveways filled with Porsche convertibles sporting vanity plates. I expect Randy Newman to drive by singing his anthemic song about this city with the perfect weather.
Rob: Friday, 11:07 am
I meet my high school girlfriend at Urth Caffé on Melrose, which turns out to be a crazy scene. I order a large French press, which is outstanding, but I can’t get cream from the overworked bussers. While I wait, I listen to a muscle-bound movie producer with hair plugs say, “I don’t believe you. I know you are not lying, but I don’t believe you.” At the adjacent table is a fey man in a tank top with a tiny white dog panting on his lap. He’s conspiring to help an actress with a British accent get a visa by marrying an American. They run down all the eligible bachelors they know who would do someone like her a favor for free. Their list is very short.
Dani: Friday, October 19, 12:17 pm
I’m lamenting the current state of freelance affairs with my old LA Weekly editor at a tiny Moroccan café in Silver Lake. My best friend, Justin, in town for the weekend from Oakland, texts me: “Wanna hang out today? I’m at Nature Well.” Ten seconds later, Joe stands up: “I gotta go.” I saunter three storefronts east to surprise Justin as he pays for his coconut kale smoothie.
Dani: Friday, 12:31 pm
We’re hoofing it to Echo Park for lunch at our favorite vegan restaurant/raw ice cream parlor. We stop to watch a dog rip into a UPS package marked “Fragile,” rescue said package mere seconds before he destroys it and then marvel at what great citizens we are.
Dani: Friday, 5:15 pm
We run into a trio of friends at Sage, and are now sharing quinoa corn cakes and durian ice cream sandwiches. There’s a knock on the window behind me. It’s Alanna, my former favorite SITE Santa Fe docent. After lunch, we mosey to the farmers market to buy homemade tempeh and pickled daikon. Painted on a brick wall in the alley looms a giant Guadalupe. She’s inescapable, that vaginal virgin.
Dani: Friday, 8:24 pm
Michelle will be here any second, and I’m still digging through my storage boxes, looking for an altar offering for my friend Taylor’s witchy birthday party. I find a satchel containing magic potions, and grab an ancient vial that reads “Successful Party” just as Michelle pulls into the driveway.
Dani: Friday, 11:54 pm
I’m in Topanga Canyon, huddled in a circle lorded over by two witches, one infinitely less scary than the other. We’re passing cups of sacred Guatemalan cacao and making funny noises and moving our bodies in strange ways. I’m sitting next to a man whose altar offering is a piece of wood painted with menstrual blood. I know comparison is useless, but in light of his period art, I wonder if my dried-up bottle of Successful Party oil is half-assed.