Monday, September 28, 2015

Cool Gray Cats in Silver Lake

Cat 1 - The Lucky One

I love animals and housesitting. That is a very lucky combination that gets me into friends' and sometimes strangers' homes. Which I think is perfect since I don't have any animals and only a smallish apartment. And I just love different places; they make me feel like an explorer - for a writer a very creative feeling. Los Angelenos like animals - of course, there are so many around: mountain lions, lizards, huge hairy spiders, coyotes, raccoons, foxes, opossums, hummingbirds, pelicans, sea lions, to name only a few - but these would be mostly outside the house (if you're lucky - if we are talking about the pesky raccoons). Inside, it's mostly cats and dogs. And that is my territory. May I introduce myself? Here is the KKK - NOT that one! The KittyKatKaretaker

Cat 2

So, co-incidence or just life's way of reminding me that grayness, aging and ailments happen in the animal world as well, here I am, Miz Silver Hair, surrounded by a certain cat-chaos. It's funny that of all places, I end up in the appropriately named artists' enclave Silver Lake, a very trendy neighborhood - staying with 3 cats, 2 of them seniors over 13 years old. One huge pitch-black male, totally overweight - ready to be shipped off in a mini cat-cart to "Cat Weight Watchers", one skinny, classy and beautifully dark-gray lady with a kidney problem. 

Cat 3

The third is a nice but slightly clueless stray cat - rather fat, too, a bit younger, and therefore without any kind of power in this pensioner-household that is dominated by the 2 lazy oldies. Yes, this is a strictly regulated cat-camp, age before youth, which goes for the sitter as well.

Cat 4

What's with the great cat-love that seems to be purring everywhere? We live now in a cat-crazed world, "funny" cat-videos are a huge business, there seems to be nothing, no depression, heartbreak or tragedies, that can't be cured by fluffy kittens and their adorable mischief. Yes, youth is cute and fresh and innocent, and I've played with a lot of kittens in my life, being as enchanted as the next person. And then - over the years - I've met older cats and older dogs - and can't say that I was crazy about them. It didn't occur to me then, that is has something to do with love! You love your animals; some say that it's a love almost as strong as the love for your own children. 

And while I type this, there she is - the skinny steel-gray one - looking at me and thinking: "Hey there, gray head, get moving, grab that little expensive pouch of organic cat-food with the purple feline on the cover and make it snappy, I don't have all day". That's how cats are. Always hungry. These ones are. But I am thinking about how I'll get her bitter medicine into her mouth tonight. I tried putting it into her food. She was only laughing about such silliness. Who do I think she is? Krazy Kitty? I've also noticed that cats apparently bring out the silly wordsmith in me (and other people), and not all of the words qualify as laugh-riots, like cat-astrophy, Cat-mandu, cat-alyst or cat-acomb.

So what are the cats' names, some of you might ask? I can't name names, the owner is skittish - because this is LA where some cats might be known and just by the description of the color of the fur or the shape of their ears I might reveal their identity and their address.  Maybe the cat was a walk-on in a Hollywood B-movie or once had a real cat-career on TV and is now a cat-been. I don't want strangers finding out the location where I housesit and wanting to stop by for a cocktail or a robbery.

Be that as it may - I'm just having catty thoughts because I'm trying to escape the constant stress of needing to produce words, blogs, books, articles, essays, one-liners, novellas, screenplays, memoirs etc. Cats don't need to do that at all. They don't read, they look at
ants and bees and wouldn't even pee on the "Los Angeles Times" that sits on the kitchen counter! Yes! Looking at lazy old cats in Silver Lake is very soothing...and if I'm getting annoyed - or if I think they deserve a treat I can still invite them to the new L.A. Cat Café, pardon "Catfe", for cat-puccinos and a cat-chat. Yes, it's real! 

I have only one really burning question left that has tortured me ever since I came to this country as an immigrant, and a new friend was tossing this funny line at me: Curiosity killed the Cat! Why? How? What did the Cat do? Is Curiosity maybe a person in a fairy-tale who was angry? Has that crime ever been resolved? Was the famous detective Cat "Meow" Pussyfoot involved? Well, curiosity will certainly NOT kill me. GRAY IN L.A. needs me.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Fashion Weeks for Fashion Geeks or REALITY BITES!

Me (on the right) and a friend in NYC in 1980 wearing 40s vintage

For a week now there is FASHION HELL going on in New York City, although they call it FASHION WEEK. I want to ignore it all because it sucks the energy out of me. So I'm trying, really. On one level it is easy because of what I see - which makes my eyes pop out and my jaw drop. Not because it's so overwhelmingly beautiful or inspiring or breathtaking, and how could it be if even someone as frighteningly untalented as Kanye West is wielding scissors - no, I'm pained and feel assaulted. But I'm still a little bit of a style-addict and a fashion plate. So, here I am sitting at my desk peeking into the huge fashion sections of the New York Times. Especially the men's fashion pages hold a special fascination for me. 
What the f#ck is going on? I don't get it. What is it with these young, skinny, unsmiling, asexual baby-faced dudes who wear ridiculous clothes and look like creatures from outer space?

 Which leads me to the question an "aging" woman might be confronting herself (in a very light, bemused fashion) relatively often. Is it me/I? Is it the times? Were an awful lot of things really better or just different back when? I think I'll take a leap of faith and say: Yes, it was better. Nobody looked that bad because nobody had that kind of money or the time to worry about whether a canary-yellow 2.500 $ coat with purple sleeves matches his frog-green 845 $ skirt. Here is a NY Times link:  and a little pricelist for some pieces of several 2016 Spring Collections. Hope you're sitting. Comme des Garçons Homme Plus coat, $1,850, pants, $750, and hood, $360. Prada shirt, $640. Adidas sneakers, $80. Turnbull & Asser socks $40. Dior Homme coat, $2,450, Calvin Klein Collection coat, $2,195Loewe hood (part of jacket), $5,810. Alexander McQueen jacket, $3,195, and shorts, $995. 
So in the end it is about "how to look bad for a lot of money?"

This can't come as a surprise - but you can have it REAL cheap! Right here in Los Angeles and the really bad dressing is worth every cent.  Come to think of it, it's actually free. 

So I have an urgent message for you designers: WAKE UP, you are living in a dream world!  There is one wonderful expression that is perfect for this sad topic: REALITY BITES. Outch! Walking around in LA and looking at men's clothes makes you lower your gaze or wanting to wear shades 24/7. And if all those esoteric and self-absorbed designers would just step out of their ivory towers for a moment and take a close look at what they so casually always call "street fashion", they would see what could be called "casual ugly" which is the way most of the men of LA are dressed. "Dressed" is a too nice word. They throw on something that's lying around on the wooden floor of their Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Echo Park or Downtown place  - and go out, carefree, thinking they are the coolest guys on earth, shades, flip-flops, wool caps and all.

 One of my favorite songs was always "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" by the Kinks, still one of my favorite groups. The way Ray Davis sings "They seek him here, they seek him there..." makes me smile and I sing along. The song so captures the spirit of "Swinging London" in the 60s.
Overdressed, "foppish" (love that word) men have always been an icky issue, except for the sixties. There were a special section of guys, mostly rock musicians, in such colorful, outrageous and frilly duds that you didn't have to go to the circus to have some fun. Suits, frocks and shirts were made of silk, velvet, satin and brocade; there were billowing sleeves, lots of vests, bell bottoms or piped pants, all often made of daring prints.  Remember Jimi Hendrix's wild outfits and Mick Jagger wearing that feminine white dress like top at that legendary free concert in Hyde Park in 1969? 
But here is the rub. Almost all of that stuff was cheap, came from Carnaby Street, Kensington High Street or hipster stores like "Granny Takes a Trip", or from those fabulous flea markets London was so famous for. The way you dressed was just a natural part of life, an extension of you and an expression. Fashion was fun and NOT a status symbol. The silliest of fashion-questions which is "Who are you wearing?" was not yet invented. Oh golden, innocent times.
So what is male fashion today? Desperation mostly. And why does it look so utterly joyless and without any identity? Ha, that's it! I've got it! Men are at the verge of a massive identity breakdown! They stumble around not knowing which way is up or down, being kicked off their mighty throne they thought they'd be sitting on till the end of time. It all shows in their clothes, which look like a desperate search for something... a little bit of femininity, something childlike, a half-hearted attempt at machismo, lots of helplessness, doused with a big splash of ridiculousness.

The most objectionable piece of clothing is easily also the ugliest pants in the universe and my personal enemy: CARGO PANTS

There should be a MUSEUM OF THE UGLIEST PANTS. Filled with nothing but CARGO PANTS. Let me just share a few photos that I shot this year at several "Starbucks" locations in Hollywood. Take a look and then have a very strong coffee - preferably NOT at a "Starbucks" - to be jolted out of a very depressing mood. Fashion is dead, style is dead, taste is dead, but CARGO PANTS live forever. Certainly at "Starbucks" and in Los Angeles.

Signing off -  SILVERELLA, depressed in Hollywood

Saturday, September 12, 2015

David Bowie & Me - & Fake Gray Hair

Before this event, which I'd already put on FB, goes down in LA art-party-history as another evening of sweat, beer and tattoos, I want to mention something about what I think I will call the "Gray Hair Mystery" of this city. Part of this blog, not necessarily always the most important one - that would be boring - is life amongst the mostly non-gray Angelenos, being brought to you by either Nature or L'Oreal. But at this 95-degree heat-event at the very nice TASCHEN Gallery ( showing truly spectacular David Bowie (who I totally love!) photos (by Mick Rock) I officially started my personal gray-head-countdown I will occasionally do. What can I say? Mostly, there were some strange, ill-fitting outfits, too much naked skin, too many ugly high heels, a lot of big egos, and lots and lots of young people (between 20 and 35).

OK, this is what I'm driving at. How many gray-haired people did I see? About 8 at the most (there were a few hundred people), the ration being 3 women to 7 men.) But, and this is more interesting, even if not new. There were quite a few young women with artificial slate-gray hair I have heard 
from a New York friend that it's big on the L train to 
Brooklyn, too. 

Most of us have read about that phenomenon of young women dying their hair silver or gray (that would include Lady Gaga and Pink) - to emulate whom? Us? Or is it like a story of Age Foretold? I think it's cute and a bit flattering. I loved the color silver too when I was 16 and messed with Halloween silver spray on my hair, actually went to school like that, leaving teachers and classmates baffled. However, now being a REAL silver head,  I like it way better. Sometimes you become what you had wished for, no matter whether you still do! So, there! 

The funny thing is, of course, that David Bowie is MY AGE (and the photographer's, too), I actually have seen him live a long long time ago. So, can David's contemporaries be counted in, too, and brag a little bit? I know from experience, that it is VERY unpopular to tell younger people who are in the throes of the thrill of discovering an icon and making him their own, that one knows it all - first time around. I understand that. Nobody really holds the privilege and exclusivity of ownership when it comes to beloved icons. 
So, in the end only one person spoke to me (I myself had approached  the silver folks - plus one misbehaving young man in a wool cap who I'd asked about his sartorial choice). After I've gotten over the surprise of all these snubs, I sat down on the leather couch, next to 3 young men with huge iPhones or whatever they were, who were probably text-messaging the entire world that they were in a hip, sought after (by invite only!!) photo-show in LA about the mesmerizingly cool dude David Bowie - while I leaned back, grinned like a Cheshire Cat, sighed nostalgically, and was very happy, and privileged indeed, to be of Dave's generation and having been there the first time around! So, it turned out to be a nice evening - Alone among the non-gray Wolves of Los Angeles!
 (photocredit:, ©Mick Rock)