January 29, 2010
GSFiSCC: Miss Peaches
What is the Great Southern Food in Southern California Challenge? Click here for the low-down. (And click on any photo below to enlarge it.)
Our first stop on the GSFiSCC was Miss Peaches, 5643 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hollywood, CA 91601.
Miss Peaches' grandson, Connell Moss, hails from Chesapeake Bay, VA, and learned how to cook from his momma's side of the family, while learning how to adapt recipes from his daddy's side of the family (although, his granddaddy took his BBQ sauce recipe to the grave, as his daddy says he'll be doing). So, while he admits his recipes aren't exactly the same as those his ancestors may have whipped up, he boasts a kitchen-eatin' experience just like his grandma used to do.
He's also adapted recipes to make 'em healthier. Yep. No meat in any of the side dishes. I cannot imagine how he got his greens to taste so good without a hamhock, but man, they're good.
Lemme back up.
We arrived right about 7pm to the kitchen-sized restaurant (let me clarify: It's a kitchen-like dining room. Tables are pulled around to accommodate how ever many folks happen to show up. There's a counter. A kitchen sink. Dishes drying in a rack. Knickknacks. And then the restaurant's actual kitchen is twice the size of the eating space. Turns out this used to be a Domino's Pizza. Then, it was a Miss Peaches for takeout only. But people stood around in the "waiting for your order" area and ate their fried chicken standing there. So, since his brother's restaurant--Angelena's, named after Connell's other grandmother--is a sit-down place, folks started coming in and expecting to sit there. "So, we put this table here," Connell said, gesturing to a two-top, and that's how it all began).
Joining me for the first stop on the GSFiSCC were Derek, Eric, Kathi, Marie, Ryan, Shirley, Tanya (and, briefly, Phoebe, whose visit was fodder for great comedic moments with Connell--who really could be a stand-up comedian--since Phoebe appreciated that the veggies were made without meat, but dared to ask Connell about the butter content--seeing as she's a vegan and all. Connell's response was a look that would chill your bones and make you laugh out loud at once). In fact, Phoebe and Tanya arrived a bit after we had placed our order. Connell asked, "Is you with them?"
They nodded, cheerily.
"Y'all's late!" he responded.
Okay, so before we ordered, Connell asked if any of us had been there before. Nope. So, he gave us a little overview. The first most popular dish is the fried chicken, closely followed by the fried catfish. "After that, you're on your own. It's all good, but it's up to you. We do serve Kool-Aid. Tonight, if you want to know what flavor it is, it's red."
I don't think we stopped laughing at all during our visit... except for when we were eating. But I'll get to that.
I had decided on the hot links, as my gluten-free guru Anna told me that would be the safest item on the menu for my gluten-free eating needs. But then I decided to ask Connell about the catfish. "How is your catfish battered?" I asked.
"Darlin', where you from?" was Connell's response.
"Atlanta," I said.
"Well you know I'm from Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, and we do it just like you do it: with corn meal."
That meant catfish for me! Along with black-eyed peas, string beans, and even some mashed potatoes.
"I like this woman," Connell told the table, after I ordered. Sweet iced-tea, of course, which I usually don't love, but how can you not get tea like your momma used to make when you're at a place like this?
When Ryan ordered unsweetened iced-tea, Connell took a step back and said, "We don't have unsweet tea." That's right. No booze (the wine on the "kitchen counter" is a knickknack), no unsweet tea, and no Coca-Cola products (which I find a bit offensive, but I'll overlook it). Of course, there was the Kool-aid, which Eric ordered. "I'm a 56-year-old man drinking Kool-aid," he marveled. They also had milk, which Derek ordered. From then on, he was known as "the milkman," according to Connell. We suspect he'll remember him by that name when Derek goes back (which he says he will). But, again, I'm getting ahead of myself.
After we ordered, Marie took a visit to the restroom, which has a keyboard and drumkit next to it. We'd learn why later. When she returned, she reported that the restroom had a "Tallahassee truckstop quality, with an obligatory touch of Hollywood: a poster from Stargate-1." Awesome.
Drinks started coming around. In mason jars. Of course. The tablecloths were exactly like my grandmother's (not in pattern, but in that they were plastic on one side, puffy cotton-like stuff on the other side). We ended up having a conversation with Connell about my grandmother keeping her newspaper articles and BINGO cards under that tablecloth (it was her vault; BINGO daubers lived in the windowsill) and it turns out his grandmother didn't have a gambling vice, but he sure thought she could've used it. "Because her vice was WWF. She thought it was real!" Connell told us all about her cheering and squealing and believing in it all. "BINGO would've been better," he said.
When the food started coming, no one waited for anyone else's food to get there. Just like no one did formal introductions upon arrival. I s'pose I could've been a good host and taken care of introductions, but it just felt so much like my grandmother's house that I went into another, safe, childhood world. And everyone just introduced themselves to one another. People shared food with one another. There was no more Hollywood. Only Miss Peaches' dinner table.
Considering we slammed the kitchen by putting in eight orders at once--and we weren't ordering light--they did great. Food was up quickly and what was forgotten was brought around to us also quickly, once recognized as forgotten (an extra side, a refill, more butter, extra napkins). If you wonder how eight people can slam a kitchen at 7pm on a Thursday, let me assure you, the entire restaurant seats no more than 15. A table of four was there when we arrived, and more people arrived after we did. Some stayed, some ordered takeout, some stood outside peering in, trying to figure out if there'd be room for them soon. There are additional tables outside, but no heatlamps, so that'd be for daytime use. Connell and Guillermo manned the kitchen. They sent their third guy home at 5pm, because it looked like it'd be a slow night.
Anyway, the food was awesome. Seriously. Things got quiet while we devoured our yummy goods off mismatched plates. "Mmm" and "ooh" and "aah" -- those were the only sounds. And they were good sounds. The first full sentence I heard came from Tanya: "I'm devouring this like I've never eaten before." Yeah. She wasn't the only one. I think I inhaled my string beans. Shared my black-eyed peas. Shared my potatoes. Shared a little catfish but brought half of it home for tomorrow. It was all sooo good. "I'll come back for the baked beans alone," Derek said. Since both Derek and Tanya live very close to Miss Peaches, I suspect they'll be back soon and often. I think I will be too!
When another table of guests finished up and settled their bill, Connell looked at their plates and said, "Y'all ate pretty good!" And then he said to us, "Everybody happy over here? Eat slow. Save room for dessert." I think our table ended up ordering two items, which I didn't sample, figuring there was no way they could be gluten-free (and I really was too full--and taking leftovers home--to have anything else). We asked about the sock-it-to-me cake and were quickly steered toward the gooey butter cake. Well... "steered toward" like a drug dealer offers up a sample before earning a customer for life.
"I'll warn you. It's crack. Don't call me in the middle of the night trying to get it," Connell cautioned.
So, that, plus some piping hot peach cobbler came to the table and got passed around. Tanya's first bite of the butter cake yielded the following, "That is STUPID!"
Raucous laughter poured through the restaurant at that point. And Connell and Tanya may be engaged. It was adorable. Turns out the butter cake recipe was adapted from a piece Connell had while in Savannah, Georgia, years ago. He wasn't sure anyone else would appreciate it, because it's lighter and fluffier than a cheesecake, but tastes like sweet butter.
Um, yeah. Sweet butter? Not a problem.
I finally did stick my finger into a bit of the smush left on the plate by the end of its third lap around the table. Reminded me of the Gillespie household classic: Karo Syrup drizzled on butter, whipped into a creamy dip for hot biscuits. Yeah. That is stupid good food.
So, let's see how Miss Peaches measures up, in the criteria I set out when issuing this Challenge.
- Is the eatin' good?
Um, yeah. It's good, it's plentiful, it's delish!
- Is the eatin' authentically southern?
Absolutely. I would've loved some fried okra and I think someone else mentioned fried green tomatoes, but even so, there was plenty of yumminess to choose from, and it all represented the food of my childhood very, very well.
- Is the price right?
Eight people ate dinner, had a few extra sides, had drinks with refills, and shared two desserts for just over $150 ($190 with tip). Marie way overpaid, so I'll make sure to keep her from doing that next time. Everyone brought small bills for check-splitting, which was very much appreciated. No one had a problem with the decision to overtip. The experience was so worth it. We really did get "dinner and a show." Fun fact: Connell is a musician. He used to write songs for Burt Bacharach!
- Does the staff make you feel like you're sittin' at your grandma's table?
Without a doubt. The whole place--with the exception of the music playing--was 100% authentically southern in vibe and style. But the music was still good! (Connell even replayed an Otis Redding song at a louder volume when he realized some of the patrons were really enjoying the tune, halfway through it.) Just not like home. Still, that's a tiny thing. Everything else was right on point.
- Is the place worth visiting, if you grew up on the type of food they say they make?
Oh, yes. Definitely. But come hungry! The portions are huge! There's plenty of street parking at Miss Peaches, but the place is small. Connell will admonish you for not calling before you came over to his house for dinner, but that's his "thing." It's very cute. You don't actually need reservations. They're closed on Sundays and on any day it's raining too hard, as the drainage on Lankershim Blvd. is so bad that you can't get from the curb into the restaurant. That means Miss Peaches was closed most of last week! Luckily, Connell gets a lot of catering gigs from TV series and film production going on in the area, and that keeps him afloat when he can't operate the restaurant for customers.
I have to tell you, if I showed up on a set and Miss Peaches was craft services, I don't know that I would get much work done. I'd have to eat all day instead.
Absolutely, this place gets my highest recommendation. Yeah, yeah, yeah it's the first stop on the tour, so there's nothing else in the running for first place, but when we told Connell what it was we were doing, coming into his place and experiencing it so fully, he listened to the list of other places we'd be trying out this year and nodded along with each one, then said, "You go to all of those, then you come back to Miss Peaches and tell me who's best."
He knows he's got that one in the bag. I have to say, the bar is set pretty dang high. Authentically southern, plentiful, delicious, affordable, and entertaining. Doesn't get much better than that!
January 17, 2010
Well, to be fair, I should call this post Post-Clutter Busting Workshop, because I haven't done any actual Clutter Busting just yet. But I will. Oh yes, I will.
So, I show up (early, as always) to the Clutter Busting workshop, immediately scrape my knuckles on a fast-slamming screen door (Ow!) and am greeted by the most wonderful Colleen, the brilliant Brooks, and a woman who refuses to shake hands (but likes to "touch elbows," so you have to kind of get even MORE into her personal space to do a weird greeting), and another who says by way of greeting, "You brought a shitload of clutter!"
Um... wasn't that the point?
See, the workshop included instructions that we bring a bin of clutter. So I did. And I didn't just go for the easy stuff--the stuff that even I wonder why I keep and know could easily be thrown out if I just took the time. I put some challenging things in the bin. I wanted to learn why I ever felt the need to hang on to any of this stuff.
Realizing I was already--just 30 seconds in--focusing on lots of "noise" of my environment to try and distract myself from the big work we were about to do, I moved across the room to pet our host's cat, I chose a seat, and I reached for my trusty journal, in which I write about all things I experience as I live my life.
Only... the journal wasn't in my purse. I totally forgot it. I was so excited about the Clutter Busting that I neglected to bring my journal and "right colored pen" (because each entry must happen in another ink color than the one before it, so it's always easy to tell where one meeting ends and another begins) and was stuck, journal-less.
"How am I going to take notes about this?" I asked myself. Suddenly, I remembered that one of the bits of clutter I put into that bin they told me to stash by the door (the same door that bit my hand) was paper-based! I went over, reached in, fished out a few pages from the clutter bin, and happily began scribbling notes about how this process was already feeling, right there on the best desk I've got: my thigh.
I laughed at myself for the ways I was trying to derail this experience already--laughed again as I found myself distracted by the professional "expert" who came (Why pay to take a workshop if you already know everything?), the unsolicited-advice-giver (We ain't here to hear you, lady.), the smoker, the latecomer, the noisy eater, and the woman who took notes so loudly I felt as though her aggressively darting pencil was a device meant to punish her ridiculously loud and crinkly paper.
Every time I felt myself focusing on any of this "noise," I reminded myself that it was okay to be scared about what breakthrough was on the other side of the good information I was about to receive. And these tactics to avoid feeling truly open to hear and experience and GET the lessons are just defense mechanisms.
"Be here, Gillespie," I told myself. And I--finally--tuned everything else out.
Brooks was brilliant. Let me just say that, now. I knew he would be, because of the impact I've seen him have on Colleen, who is also brilliant. She already has so much good stuff in place for navigating her life (and sharing it all) that if she felt great impact from Brooks' teachings, I knew I certainly could.
As I mentioned yesterday, I have lots of clutter!
More importantly, I have lots of justifications for keeping what I keep.
As we spent a half-hour on the first person, then five minutes on the next, and then twenty minutes on the third--always allowed to interject questions that each person's process brought up for us--I realized not everyone's bin would be dealt with, here. So, I began reviewing in my mind each of the pieces I knew I had put in my bin (which was still over by the door).
I had chosen each thing to represent a "theme" I seem to have. Like, this piece is here because it goes with an art project I never really finished, and I wanted to finish it and this would be how I could do that. And, this is in here because it's a placeholder, a to-do list item, and by having the thing in the way, it reminds me--more than a note on a list could remind me--that I have this thing to do. The three biggest themes represented by junk in my bin were these:
2. Empty boxes.
3. All-or-nothing items.
Let me elaborate.
Gifts. Well, that's easy. That's something that Brooks covered with a couple of the night's participants. And I asked a clarifying question to help me get at what kept me so bound to things that have been given to me.
We keep gifts that others give us because we have a need to please. We worry so that we will disappoint the gift-giver by not liking the thing they've given us that--in addition to not liking the thing (which is already the case)--we hang on to the thing we don't like because to let go of it would be somehow more insulting.
That makes perfect sense. And if I consider the intention of the gift-giver, it gets very easy. "She gave me these earrings because she loves me and wants me to have these nice things. She hasn't been observant enough to realize that I don't--can't--wear earrings. I can either force myself to wear these earrings--causing horrible infection and great pain--or I can keep 'em in the box on a shelf and feel like shit for not wearing them every time I pass by the box. Or I can squirrel 'em away into a place where I never see 'em and they'll continue to fester at my psychic energy just by being here and keeping space occupied, preventing something that I would actually love, wear, use, and find great joy in from coming into my life. Or I can clutter-bust. I can say, 'Wow, thank you so much for the gift,' and then give the lovely earrings to someone who will treasure them. Because the giver did not give me the earrings in an attempt to make me feel like shit--which I do, every time I look at them and think about not wearing them, which is all I will EVER do, since I cannot wear them--it is my gift back to me and to the giver to be free of all that psychic--and physical--baggage."
Empty boxes. A little stickier, because the boxes I used as an example are the cute iPhone boxes (3) that I still have, years after having first purchased iPhones. They're cute. And fun. And well-crafted. And a piece of marketing genius. So, the lesson Brooks drew here was that I keep the empty box because it reminds me of the joy I got when I first brought home my new iPhone.
He asked if I could get to that place of joy without the box.
Absolutely! Just holding my iPhone brings me that joy.
Okay, cool. Then the box can go, right?
(Ah, crap. A but. You knew that was coming.)
I also really think the box is cute and I could maybe store something little in it. It's such a well-made box and I have a lot of little things. Couldn't that be a good use of the box?
"If you use it like that."
Got it. And that brings me to the second half of the "empty boxes" item, because I also keep a fuckton of less-lovely empty boxes (like shoe boxes and the big boxes the printer paper comes in from Office Depot or Staples) and that way I always have a box when I need one.
Think about that.
I always have a box when I need one.
Who fucking cares?
Why do I take up a full eighth of a room with a Matryoshka Dolls-like configuration of boxes inside boxes inside boxes, just so I'll have one handy when I need one? When I need to store another mess of actor headshots or postcards--which I'm desperately trying to dispose of, with the help of casting interns working with me--I'll have another damn box, allowing me to KEEP stuff I'm trying to get rid of. Right? Oh boy...
Out they go. Got it.
All-or-nothing items. This one gets even stickier, and I didn't get a direct answer to this question, when I posed it early on in the session, as Brooks was going through Dyana's awesome bin. "What about self-imposed rules about 'all or nothing,' when it comes to getting rid of stuff?"
That's what I asked, and I didn't realize until the end of the workshop that the entire concept of Clutter Busting is the answer to that question.
See, I have this "all or nothing" issue. With lots of things. It's sometimes very difficult for me to do something that's only "a little" done. If I get rid of a headshot an actor tossed into a bin for me at a speaking event, I'm convinced I have to get rid of every headshot that actors tossed into that bin for me, at that event. And then all similar events come into question.
If I delete an email that's a part of a conversation that has six back-and-forths, I am convinced I must delete all emails from that conversation. Once I've deleted one, they all must go. And if I keep one, they all must stay.
If I throw away a holiday greeting card with a sweet, sentimental message scrawled inside, I must throw away all cards from that holiday. I can't keep any of 'em. Because once I hang on to one special card, I have to keep them all. It's only fair.
Didn't I go through this exact issue when I Embraced Inefficiency four years ago? Yes. Yes, I did.
And I also do this with people--and Brooks tells us that clutter is defined as anything that's holding us back--by saying, "Well, I've invited showcase alumni to this party. I have to invite all of the alumni. Not just my favorite people." Why? Why invite people I don't enjoy to parties I'm paying to host? Why do I let this "fairness voice" overrule happiness? That's messed up.
But here's what was really fantastic about what Brooks taught me, through his every query of a participant in the hotseat, going through his or her bin of clutter: "Address one thing at a time."
And, hey, that takes care of the "all or nothing" issue, every time, because you're only ever considering one item.
"As you hold that one thing, ask yourself how it makes you feel. Ask, 'Do I need to hold on to this or can I let it go?' And if your answer gets long-winded, it's a piece you need to deal with."
More importantly, if your answer gets long-winded--like, "I have to keep this because it's an heirloom," or, "I can't get rid of this because it was a gift," or, "I've never liked this, but it meant so much to my mom," for example--you need to know that that very item is constantly pulsing at you with that energy. Even from its box, hidden in a closet! And far more importantly than even that, if you're holding on to that stuff, you're preventing new stuff from coming into your life! You're holding on to things that you think have the potential of making you feel great (like you felt when you first got 'em, for example), it's like chasing the dragon. You can never get that first high back, so you keep trying harsher drugs or weirder combinations. And it still falls short. But by keeping that "old drug" with "potential" to make you "feel good" hanging around, you're keeping away the NEW thing that has absolute ability to fill your life with joy in THIS moment.
You're basically telling your life--by holding on to stuff--that the old stuff, the old "you," the stuff that you collected as that person--is all more valuable than the you now, the stuff you could invite into your life now, the happiness you could create today.
Now, I wanted to know why I keep the things I keep. Brooks says the WHY is not important. "Look at the effect it's having on you," he said. "The reason it's choking you doesn't matter. Just stop the choking." I love it. The why is less relevant because the why is that we're taught to attach meaning to things. We are not taught how to let go. And when we watch others go through their stuff--stuff to which WE have no attachment--it gets very simple. Just like producers selecting top actors for a role. There's no attachment other than "what's gonna work, right now." Brooks also suggested we ask, "Would I buy this today, if I had a gift card?" I like that! I also really loved his analogy about how these "treasures" are like a nail made of gold. We step on it, and instead of realizing we are being HURT by the nail, we focus on, "Oh, but it's made of gold! It's valuable."
Is it so valuable we'll let it keep us apart from the better stuff we have headed for us, as we've evolved and expanded our capacity for inviting goodness into our lives?
So, as I go around my house, I touch a thing. I ask, "How do I feel about you?" And if I feel thrilled to have it in my life, on display, out for the world to enjoy with me, it can stay. If I am embarrassed or worried or anxious or feeling like I will someday have a house in which this thing will be appreciated, I have two choices.
1. Toss it.
2. Put it out and on display to enjoy RIGHT NOW. Not someday.
And if I cannot enjoy it, if it causes me stress to look at it (perhaps because it is a reminder of how I don't yet have the space to showcase it the way I would like to), OUT it goes. Because holding on to it not only keeps that anxiety in my life--that "loss of clarity," as Brooks puts it--but it also prevents the very thing for which I'm hanging on to it (that future house) from coming into my life.
So, Keith and I had a big talk last night over dinner after the workshop. We agreed that even if we have to buy stuff all over again, if the keeping of the "stuff" is preventing us from getting the house that is where we want to showcase the "stuff," we would rather have the house and have to buy stuff all over again, than to have the "stuff" and no house.
We're ready to have a space into which we happily invite people. About which we don't apologize for the state of it. "Oh, we are storing that for when we get our house," is something we no longer want to say. We're ready to live here, now. And addressing each item all by itself, asking whether it makes my heart sing... that's a ONE THING I can--and will--do.
Because if it's not filling me with happy, right this second, what am I doing hanging on to it?
January 16, 2010
Okay, so I'm pretty freakin' excited. And I know I'm facing some major change. The major way I know I'm facing some major change is that I'm majorly sick. And I rarely get sick. Not like this, anyway. This is the kind of sick I've only been a few times in my life. That inexplicably sick and stuck and feeling like a used kleenex kind of sick that has no connection to any contagion or any amount of run-down and instead seems to line up with a spiritual or psychic block on its way out.
I got this sick before The Age 28 Epiphany. I got this sick before I came out about my damage that I had been keeping private for so long. I'm about to do something very scary and very wonderful and I didn't get this sick 'til the moment I knew I would be doing this.
What is "this"?
I had read about my friend-and-mentor Colleen Wainwright's Clutter Busting back in October. I remember at the time being too overwhelmed by the contents of that post to comment, and instead of commenting, I took a screen-cap of the cute little frog photo and added it to my "smile file."
Of course, I'm a clutter-keeper. I'm not an out-and-out hoarder (the show by the same name has taught me I am sooo much healthier than I sometimes think I might be), but I keep stuff. Usually stuff well-meaning folks give me. "It's a gift! I can't get rid of it." (Some of that issue has softened with my decision to just start re-gifting stuff that may mean more to someone else than it could ever mean to me--especially when I'm in a place that doesn't allow me to afford what I'd like really to buy for someone.)
Usually, I move every couple of years. With the exception of my childhood years, I have changed residences at least every two years. Until now. Keith and I have lived in our beach pad for almost six years now. And moving every two years helps keep clutter down, as there's always that big, "I'd rather toss you out than move you," conversation with a lot of the stuff. So, now, we have a bunch more stuff than I even understand having.
So, when Colleen mentioned Wednesday that her Clutter Busting guru, Brooks Palmer, was going to be doing a Clutter Busting workshop in Los Angeles this weekend--and that as of that morning there was one spot left--I knew this was my breakthrough, on its way.
I keep getting emails from my nearest and dearest, telling me they see me so poised for the tier jump that's coming. I feel that too. I really do. But there's a block.
And I as I've gleefully--yes, even in my sick place--gone around the house and pulled things to take to Brooks (we each bring a bin of "stuff" for him to Clutter Bust for us--rather--to *teach* us why we hang onto the stuff, so we can go home and start removing the stuff ourselves), I've said, "Well, can't I just throw this out, now that I'm looking at it and knowing I don't need to keep it?" and I've answered to myself, "No. It's time to understand why you've ever felt the need to hang on to this. And fix that."
So, I'm off to fix that. I am so very, very, very excited for where I'll be the next time I sit down at this computer ("where" being an emotional, spiritual, mental place, more than physical, of course). I'm not expecting anything other than change and flow and the gift that is Clutter Busting.
Again, thank you Colleen, for bringing yet another gift into my life at the exact right moment.
This is a gift I will keep!
January 12, 2010
12 of 12 for January 2010
Welcome back to Chad's last year of 12 of 12. Who is Chad? Click here. Why is this the last year for Chad? He's feeling done. Boy, don't I know how that goes! So, thank you, Chad for this wonderful thing you've given us. It's been so much fun to do!
Here we go! Click any photo to enlarge. :)
5:50am: Keith's alarm (not this old digital clock--a gift from Fulton Federal, when I opened an account with them in 1989--don't think we've used the alarm or radio function for a decade now; bless the PDAs) has gone off and he's headed to Runyon. I'm headed to another sleep cycle, thank you.
7:32am: Now, I'm up. Thwok is with me in the bathroom. She loves the sink. Monkey in a sink. Nothing cuter. Evil monkey!
10:51am: I'm addicted. I can't stop playing the free iPhone app called "Words with Friends." Kiki (Erik Patterson) turned me on to it over the holiday break and I've got about 22 games going right now. If you want to play me, my username is bonniegillespie. I really love this game!
11:50am: I've finished my body test on Wii Fit (I'm 24 years old, in Wii Fit years, today, and I'm down 3.2 pounds from yesterday, which is a bit ridiculous) and it's time to commence training. I've put in a LOT of hours, overall, huh?
12:25pm: Training is over. A half-hour is about all my bum ankle can take. But I'm thrilled my ankle can take it at all. I was missing the workouts. I'm so glad to be back at it. Ankle's getting stronger and stronger. Just wish the pain would stop!
1:46pm: Time to lube up and wrap my ankle. Using the last of the great anti-inflammatory gel my awesome ex-boyfriend got me in Australia, when I turned my ankle and fell down the stairs. The meds in Australia are awesome. I need to import some Nurofen+. The "plus" stands for codeine. Yes! Over the counter, baby. Ahh... that's long gone. Took most of it while in Sydney, natch. That's when the pain was its worst.
3:34pm: Time to walk to Third Street Promenade with my sweetheart. That place where the street looks like it ends, a couple of blocks down? Yeah, that's the beach. I know. I love where we live too. It's awesome.
3:58pm: Satisfying a craving. Johnny Rockets' chili cheese fries. A thousand calories of heaven. (I can only eat this about once every two years or so, but when I want it, I really really want it. That was today. Totally worth it.) Still can't figure out why the Bee Gees were in heavy rotation on the Johnny Rockets' jukebox. Something is... off... about that.
4:25pm: Pacific Coast sunset at Arizona and Third Street. Just lovely. I so love where we live!
5:34pm: We've spent time at the Apple Store, where a genius actually helped us fix a Mail settings issue we've been working on for months. No, I'm still not satisfied with Mail and Address Book and iCal as a replacement for Entourage, but this little bug fix certainly helps. Yay, Madison! Thank you! Anyway, now we're at Barnes and Noble, buying a couple of good ol' fashioned books. Have to visit our baby, Self-Management for Actors, while we're there.
6:20pm: The kitties were being inappropriately rambunctious, so we decided to calm 'em down by getting 'em stoned. A healthy dose of catnip always does the trick. This is Salema, baked. And now... they sleep. Ah. That's good parenting!
As always, thank you, Chad, for another lovely 12 of 12. :) Keep on rockin', good folks! LYMI!
January 11, 2010
What To Do (Option Overload)
Okay, so for one, I'm going to blog more. That was one of my (non-)resolutions ("non," since I don't really make resolutions; the other is "more face time" with people I care about) for 2010. So, as I'm working all of this out in my head today, I realize maybe I could get some clarity by writing about it.
One of the things we did as a part of the showcase was a set of "Self-Management for Actors seminars" (sessions with the showcasers, to make sure their marketing materials were in their best possible shape, talk about best-matched agents and managers, strategize casting opportunities, and work on networking tactics). As some of the earlier showcasers went a few months or a year or so out of the experience, they craved a "tune up" and started asking me to offer the seminars to alumni.
What I did, instead, was offer up weekly classes, which we did for all of 2009. (That was awesome. Pretty much changed my life in some really profound ways. I love what we were able to accomplish and how we grew as a group of co-conspirators, ready to rock this town.) And that came to an end just before my trip to Australia, as we decided to transition into quarterly retreats (with the first one taking place 1/23/10; the next--one for kids and parents of kid actors--will be in April; and so on).
But I have this need to keep the good info flowing a little more frequently than quarterly, plus whatever bookings I have for speaking engagements around the world (which I love having; I want to invite more of that into my life in 2010, with loads of travel and seminars and book signings). I had been recording vids for my Facebook page and that's been fun, but now I'm saving up my recordings to premiere at Somebody's Basement, when we launch that this year.
I'm wondering if I should find a way to do a radio show or a regular podcast, or another outlet for writing about the industry (or even something broader than that). I mean, obviously, we're already working up a fuckton of stuff, between Somebody's Basement and the show I'm developing, and all of the roadshow stuff, and these quarterly retreats, and turning SMFA into an iPhone app and board game, and my weekly column, and then there's some casting coming back (woo hoo! Awesome projects that had some stalls over the past two years are finally greenlit and back on our slate), which means it's not like I'm looking for more work to do.
Yet, I am.
It's like I have so much that I want to do and I can't quite figure out which river to float down.
Of course, the truth is, I'll float and end up where I'm supposed to be, because that's what happens in life. There's no wrong turn except the one you force, and I'm not looking to force anything.
So, I guess I'm just inviting "whatever" into my life, and hoping by putting this out there, that'll bring it on into my world at the right and perfect moment, in the best possible conditions.
(PS--It's my half-birthday. Six months 'til 40, y'all! Woo!)
January 4, 2010
Cricket Feet Showcase: on hiatus!
Apparently a bunch of LA actors made "Do the Cricket Feet Showcase" a resolution for 2010 because I'm getting bombarded with emails and Facebook messages about our beloved showcase.
So, let me just put this here so it's clear (and I'll cross-post this at my fan page, over at Facebook, so folks can easily bump into the info).
For now, there's no more showcase. :) We reached our five-year goal for talent level, attendance level, and results in actors' careers level in just over two years. Unfortunately, we did not reach our five-year goal for getting corporate financing, and we went out of pocket $5K for the 2009 showcase. We can't afford to keep doing that, and our five-year goal was to have the showcase be free for actors.
Since we couldn't afford to lose another $5K in 2010 and because we were having to turn away industry because we were so full at our 2009 shows, we were going to have to add another show, and that meant printing more programs, renting and insuring the space for another night, hiring the tech crew for another night, paying for booze and catering for another night... and because we're not yet corporately financed (our five-year goal, again), that meant we were actually going to have to raise the price of the showcase to keep doing it at this level.
And that's the opposite direction we wanted to go, within five years.
So, rather than continue to produce the showcase--which we clearly have learned how to do at a rockstar level, having changed the game for what the industry expects of industry showcases--while losing money and raising the cost for the actors, we chose to go on hiatus and go back to producing showcases when we, as a corporation, can fully fund them ($30K) and invite our favorite actors to participate or when we get the corporate backing we had hoped to attract within five years.
So, bummer for those who were hoping to participate in 2010 or beyond, as there's no telling when we'll be back to producing showcases, but keep an eye on the showcase website for updates and of course, know I'll blast the word out at Facebook when we're in a position to do them again. Very hopeful that many of the projects we have brewing for 2010 will be such good money-earners that we are told by our tax guy that we, as a corporation, have to lose a bunch of money each year. :) Then we'll be set! :)
Much love to you fine folks who are into doing rockstar showcases. Please, produce your own! Rent some space, choose some original material by great writers (please, don't show folks the same old tired scenes we've seen a thousand times), hire a director, and make some noise! That's how we started out, and we grew to the biggest, highest-attendance, most critically-acclaimed, results-getting showcase in town... in just over two years. Awesome!
January 2, 2010
The Great 2010 Southern Food in Southern California Challenge
It started simply enough.
I posted a status update from my iPhone, as my champagne-sleepy head began to wind down in the wee hours of January 1st.
(Now, of course, after receiving a few comments, it became clear that I really *meant* to say "cabbage," not "collard greens," as THAT is what this southern gal's momma made every year, but that's neither here nor there.)
Comments came flooding in. Suggestions of places to score a true southern meal in Los Angeles, comments that there just isn't any true southern eating in Los Angeles, invitations to home-cooked New Year's Day meals from friends and strangers alike... gawd I loves me the Facebook.
I started poking around. Poking hard. Poking a LOT.
And I found a good bunch of options within minutes--or hours--from home.
And I decided it's not enough to just go find a good place for a good meal. I'm gonna have to turn this into a "thing." So, here's one of my 2010 "things" (another being that I'm participating in a Snapshot a Day group at Flickr--YES! I finally joined the Flickr. I know! Hello, 2005--as well as the usual 12 of 12 monthly photo essay), and I'd like to invite y'all to join in.
I'm gonna check out some of these places.
At least one per month.
And I'm gonna take photos and blog at the Spynotebook about the eats, asking questions like:
- Is the eatin' good?
- Is the eatin' authentically southern?
- Is the price right?
- Does the staff make you feel like you're sittin' at your grandma's table?
- Is the place worth visiting, if you grew up on the type of food they say they make?
And I'm inviting those of y'all who'd like to sample these goodies with me to join in. Just say "I'm in" and I'll be sure to include you on the Facebook "event" I'll create for each experience. Whether you can make it or not, I'll be there. :) It's gonna be a fun year of good eatin'!
Here are the places in consideration, for now. (Obviously, I'll cut this list way down, based on menu, prices, location, and kitch-factor probably. If you have any thoughts on any of these places, please share 'em, so I can weigh your words along with what my research is showing me about the places.)
Animal, 435 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, 90036 (nearby, organic, menu items include BBQ pork belly sandwiches, slaw, fried cornbread, collards, country ham, red peas, grits, chard, slab bacon, and a dessert called bacon chocolate crunch bar, which I must try)
Aunt Kizzy's, 523 Washington Blvd., Marina Del Rey, 90292 (nearby, closed Tuesdays, menu items include chicken fried steak, Miss Flossie's chicken & dumplings, spicy hot links with red beans & rice, Uncle Wade's oxtails, fried okra, hush puppies, cornbread muffins, Aunt Kizzy's sweet potato pie, Aunty Johnnies's peach cobbler pie; bonus points for Sunday brunch)
Aunt Rosa Lee's Mississippi Soul Food, 2781 S. Western Ave., Los Angeles, 90018 (not too far away, closes early, no official website and only one review--but it's a glowing one--no menu items mentioned beyond the obligatory black-eyed peas and collard greens)
Baby Blues BBQ, 7953 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hollywood (close to home, annoying website with no "off" button on the music, menu items include "Get Down Miss Brown" pulled pork plate, Marion County slow-smoked chicken, Memphis Queen smoked baby back ribs, smoked link sandwich with cotija cheese & hot peppers, coleslaw, fried okra, creamed spinach, collard greens, cornbread, chicken-smoked rice)
Beachwood BBQ, 131-1/2 Main St., Seal Beach, 90740 (far away, happy hour 3pm to 6pm Tuesday through Friday, menu items include Lena's famous fried pickles, BBQ chicken nachos, barbecue chicken salad with smoked chili buttermilk dressing, sauteed prawns in sharp cheddar cheese grits, brisket on a toasted potato roll, buffalo sloppy Joes, fried green tomatoes, pulled chicken, bleu cheese grits, tangy coleslaw, hush puppies)
Bertha's Soul Food, 1714 W. Century Blvd., Los Angeles, 90047 (close to home, gorgeous website, daily lunch specials, menu items include black-eyed peas, collard greens, cabbage, chitterlings, neckbones and hamhocks, beans and rice, peach cobbler, sweet potato pie)
Bud's Louisiana Café, 10425 Tierrasanta Blvd., San Diego, 92124 (far away, closed Sunday and Monday, happy hour and old-people dinner time discounts, menu items include seafood gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, jalapeno cornbread muffins, pulled pork po boys, crawfish étouffée, fried oysters, fried catfish, shrimp remoulade salad, bread pudding, creole pecan pie)
Chef Marilyn's Soul Food Express, 5068 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 90019 (not far, love her photo on the website, 99-cent sides, menu items include cornbeef with cabbage, neckbones, southern style oxtails, salmon croquette, fried catfish, chicken links with BBQ sauce, cornbread, collard greens, black-eyed peas, lima beans, peach cobbler)
Cru, 1521 Griffith Park Blvd., Los Angeles, 90026 (not far, a raw-slash-vegan-slash-gluten-free-slash-organic place I actually have a gift certificate for, limited options for southern-style eating, menu items include southern-style black-eyed peas with mashed sweet potatoes served with collard greens and cranberry persimmon compote)
The Gumbo Pot, 6333 W. Third St., Los Angeles, 90036 (nearby, Farmer's Market location so there's lots of fun stuff to do there, menu items include gumbo ya ya, seafood gumbo, drunken shrimp, vegetarian red beans and rice, cajun meatloaf, crawfish tail po boy, alligator tail filet, soft shell crab po boy, French Quarter muffelata, green salad with peppered pecans, creole mustard potato salad)
Harold and Belle's, 2920 W. Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles, 90018 (not too far, really gorgeous food photos on the website, menu items include crawfish éttouffée, catfish po boy, spicy crawfish popcorn, fried crabcakes, homestyle meatloaf, clam chowder, fried red snapper, fried frog legs, lobster scampi, bread pudding, key lime pie)
Home, 1760 Hillhurst Ave., Los Angeles, 90027 (not far, I've actually eaten here before--years ago--when a friend wanted to treat me to a "true, southern meal" and I can't recall whether it was a victory or not, menu items include Grandma Dee's southern fried chicken, mom's meatloaf, veggie meatloaf, BBQ baby back ribs, waffle fries, Tex-Mex burrito, southern chicken fried steak and eggs)
Honey's Kettle, 9537 Culver Blvd., Culver City, 90232 (nearby, recipe for their biscuits are right on the website--but the menu is not, so I assume that menu items include the main-page-mentioned hand-dipped chicken and fish, shucked corn, snapped green beans, biscuits, pies)
House of Blues, 8430 Sunset Blvd., W. Hollywood, 90069 (nearby, maybe too touristy or cliché, menu items include creole seafood jambalaya, cajun meatloaf, BBQ baby back ribs, crispy catfish nuggets, pan-seared voodoo shrimp, rosemary skillet cornbread, white chocolate banana bread pudding, key lime pie)
Industry Café and Jazz, 6039 Washington Blvd., Culver City, 90232 (nearby, live jazz 8pm to 11pm, a combination of East African Injera specialties and southern-style soul food, menu items include catfish, red snapper, collard greens, cornbread muffins, candied yams)
Jack-n-Jill's Too, 8738 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, 90048 (nearby, breakfast served 'til 5pm, the creole hangover omelet, the Texas crepe, smoked chix gumbo, sweet potato melts, Lafayette crepes, Nutella banana crepes, beer-battered onion rings, Camille's po boy, Gulf Coast arbiatta, the Grambling tater--OMG, I'm going for the potatoes alone)
Johnny Rebs', 4663 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach, 90805 (not close, but may be worth the drive, menu items include BBQ hot link sandwich, smoked chicken wings, home fried potato chips with cool ranch, sampler plate of cajun sausage hot link sausage hush puppies onion rings and BBQ sauce for dippin', fried green tomatoes seasoned with bacon, cajun poppers, fried okra, chicken fried steak, southern fried chicken and Texas caviar over greens, drop biscuit peach cobbler, fried Mississippi mud pie)
Larkin's Joint, 1496 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock, 90041 (not terribly close, looks a little "southern-style California cuisine fusion" action is going on here, menu items include Warm Okra & Heirloom Tomato Salad, gumbo, jambalaya, fried catfish, BBQ beef brisket, fried okra, portabello Fries, garlic-roasted corn on the cob, momma's meatloaf sandwich, deep-fried grilled cheese sandwich, Sistah Nelson's BBQ portabello sandwich)
Les Sisters', 21818 Devonshire St., Chatsworth, 91311 (not terribly close, menu items include Louisiana hot links, oyster po boys, jambalaya, crawfish étouffée, filé gumbo, hush puppies, Clara's peach cobbler, sweet potato pie, Dana's famous buttermilk pie, bourbon bread puddin')
Lucille's Smokehouse BBQ, 21420 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance, 90503 (not too far, menu items include Pop's beloved fresh pan-blackened catfish, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and southern braised greens, southern-fried catfish and shrimp, Jambalaya, Louisiana pasta, New Orleans gumbo, Joe's meatloaf, homemade biscuits with apple butter)
Magnolia's, 342 Euclid Ave., San Diego, 92114 (super far but could be a fun trip, menu items include catfish fingers, crab cakes, crawfish bisque, fried oysters, liver and onions, jambalaya, chitterlings, crawfish éttouffée, hush puppies, candied yams, black-eyed peas, coleslaw, fried okra, sweet potato pie, bread pudding, peach cobbler)
Mattie's Southern Kitchen, food truck! (yep, we actually have to FIND it because it's a badass food truck!!! What an adventure! Menu items include fried chicken, Eastern Carolina pulled pork BBQ, shrimp and grits, collard greens, creamed corn, blackened catfish po boy, buttermilk biscuits)
Memphis at the Beach, 1142 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach, 90266 (nearby, lovely location, a little high-end California-fusion looking, menu items include cornmeal fried chicken salad, crab cakes, steamed mussels and clams, popcorn shrimp tacos, pulled pork sliders, fried okra, hush puppies, potato pancakes, meatloaf stack, soul burger, bison burger, shellfish jambalaya with dirty rice, seared dayboat scallops with roasted green chile grits and asparagus succotash)
Miss Peaches, 5643 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hollywood, 91601 (not too far, closed Sundays, menu items include chicken and waffles, smothered pork chop, BBQ hot links, black-eyed peas, yams, cornbread, sweet potato pie, gooey butter cake, sock-it-to-me cake, Aunt Myrtle's lemon cake, peach cobbler)
Po Folks, 7701 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, 90620 (not close, of course I've been to Po Folks all through the Atlanta area so this is safe and chain-like, no bonus points for kreeyativ spellin', menu items include onion rangs, fried green t'maters, chicken livers, chicken gizzards, kuntry fried steak salad, chicken n' dumplings, fried okra, po-tater salad, sliced t'maters, baked apples, turnip greens)
Roscoe's, 1514 N. Gower St., Hollywood, 90028 (over where we used to live, a Hollywood institution, not sure why folks consider this "southern," as there has never been a waffle served with chicken at any southern dinner I ever had, menu items include, well, chickens and waffles)
The Serving Spoon, 1403 Centinela Ave., Inglewood, 90302 (not far away, gorgeous website, breakfast served all day, daily specials, menu items include pork links, salmon croquettes, chicken sausage, chitterlings, meatloaf, oxtails, beef short ribs, chicken dressing, Salisbury steak, peach cobbler)
South, 3001 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 90403 (seriously one of my favorite places in town and not just because I can walk there from my house, their pulled-pork nachos are a regular item in my diet, happy hour 3pm to 8pm weekdays, menu items include gator wings, sweet potato fries, sausage bread, bayou chicken sandwich, collard greens, coleslaw, jalapeño cornbread, cheesy grits, bacon ranch potato salad, voodoo shrimp, Miss Gloria's bourbon pecan pie, a sweet tea martini that will rock your world, and of course the aforementioned pulled-pork nachos)
Spring Street Smokehouse, 640 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, 90012 (not super close, but going downtown is always fun, ordering style like Old Hickory House, menu items include cajun stuffed chicken, burnt ends, pork spare ribs, sliced beef brisket, Louisiana hot links, pulled pork sandwich, coleslaw, mashed sweet potato, hush puppies, pickled eggs, bourbon bread pudding, s'mores)
Tart, 115 S. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, 90036 (not too far, tattooed lady on the website intimidates me a bit but the menu looks great, California fusion menu items include fried green tomatoes, truffle mac and cheese, crawfish spring rolls, crispy alligator, southern fried chicken, creole paella, seafood boil for two, jambalaya pizza, crawfish mashed potatoes, crispy grit cakes)
Uncle Darrow's Cajun Restaurant, 2560 S. Lincoln Blvd., Marina Del Rey, 90292 (super close, breakfast on the weekends, menu items include red beans and rice, jambalaya, filé gumbo ya ya, buttermilk biscuits with mamma's gravy, salmon croquettes)
Vegisoul, 1436 W. Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles, 90007 (not too far, closed Mondays, take-out only which means we have to plan a spot to eat our goods, good for our vegan friends, menu items include "see food" gumbo, "fibbs," red beans, habe vegiburger, blackened tofu, vegan cornbread, vegan butter pecan ice cream)
Venni Mac's M&M Seafood, 5496 Centinela Ave., Los Angeles, 90045 (nearby, menu items include BBQ hot links, red beans and rice, smothered chicken, short ribs, liver and onions, oxtails, collard greens and yams, succotash, cabbage, cornbread dressing, chitterlings)
Zeke's BBQ Smokehouse, 7100 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hollywood, 90046 (nearby, menu items include hush puppies with honey butter, fresh made kettle chips with ranch, smokehouse hot wings, hot links, Carolina pulled-pork sandwich topped with slaw, cold meatloaf sandwich, southern fried catfish sandwich with remoulade sauce, Memphis baby back ribs, Kansas City spare ribs, Texas beef brisket, applesauce, root beer float, warm bread pudding with bourbon sauce, pecan pie)
Okay, I'm hungry just typing all of this up!
So, are you ready? Let's do this! It'll be fun, y'all! :) Thanks, my community, for turning a Facebook status update into a new "thing" for 2010. Yay!