To be frank–and apologies in advance, Angelenos– but even though I had never been, I was pretty sure, like almost 100% certain, that I was going to feel some kind of way about Los Angeles. Aversion? Hostility? I’m not even sure what kind of way. But not a good way. Even though in my secret heart I harbor all sorts of magical Weetzie Bat feels about the place! I expected sizzling sunshine and blinding blue skies and seething crowds of gorgeous people boasting the most expensive and unattainable sort of beauty…and yes, I suppose I’m extremely influenced by cinema and literature, but I will confess to being pretty gullible and naive sometimes, so there you go. But as a Floridian who gets quite enough heat and sunshine already, I don’t really crave the stuff (or particularly even like it!) and I definitely don’t relish the idea of ping-ponging back and forth amongst throngs of celebrities and influencers and attractive faces making me feel dull and drab and dumpy in comparison, and so I was positive I was not going to be feeling good about things. Which sounds so silly, because I really was looking forward to this trip, I promise! But you know how it is.
Los Angeles though, or at least my limited four-day experience of it, was not that at all, not in the least! The weather was cool and grey, and even quite rainy for a few days. I was able to wear all my layers. And boots! With black tights! This is unheard of in Florida from say, the end of April through sometimes the end of October. We have a one week window where tights and boots are comfortable apparel. I only mention this because I’d gotten it in my head that LA weather was very similar to FL weather? And yes, of course there were beautiful people, but that aspect was tempered by the reminder that these handsome folx were all gathered for a common goal (The Oddities Market! More on that below!) and they were all some variation of the same kind of awkward and weird and ridiculous and strange as me…so I guess that part worked itself out, too.
And most importantly, I was going to Los Angeles to spend time with my Haute Macabre family.
First I will mention that on my 5-hour flight to LAX I finally got to watch The Favorite, a film that I’d been excited about seeing ever since I’d seen whispers of a teaser-trailer, with Olivia Coleman being ridiculous as Queen Anne. I heard that lot of viewers didn’t care for it, I think, for the mean-spirited power plays amongst women, but I thought it was absurd and fascinating and a bit of a scream, if I am being honest. (On my flight home I finally got to watch Summer Camp Island!)
After touching down and meeting up with Maika–who may be dropping some tidbits about her LA visit in an upcoming Needful Things installment, so stay tuned!– which was sort of an adventure because we couldn’t immediately find each other; apparently, LAX has an almost comical abundance of terminals… and none of them are really connected? Or if they are, I sure couldn’t figure it out. Once we solved The Mystery Of Where The Hell Are We, Anyway? we caught a Lyft to our lodgings, and plopped our things in the compact but charming rooms at The Rosemary in downtown Los Angeles. (If you stop by for a stay, maybe you’ll find my discarded copy of Crazy Rich Asians in the bar area!)
From there I met up with a wonderful internet friend of nearly a decade who I’d chickened out of meeting in-person when we both lived in the northeast, but now I was finally going through with it! We convened at The Last Bookstore where I browsed tons of excellent used horror –and other genres, but I’ve got a one-track mind– I gaped at a magical book tunnel, I snapped a photo of this curious portal (above), and I got a peek at the super cute knitting shop upstairs! We shared a cocktail at The Edison, and I marveled how, in such an amazing space, we were the only two people sitting around pretending to be glamorous– and then I realized that it was only six o’clock in the evening and the hip crowd probably doesn’t even show up until after ten, and listen, even when I was a young thing I didn’t understand why people don’t start their evening outings until late; I mean, damn, don’t you want to be in bed by 10:30pm?
The next day I was immensely privileged to have been invited on an adventure with Maika and Paul Koudanaris to make some new animal friends! Along with two other super interesting individuals whom I had never met before, we visited the Sanctuary at Soledad, a tremendously wonderful animal rescue farm out in Mojave; we made a strange sojourn to a cat shelter that proved to be more than a little disturbing; and in between the two, took a casual drive to a fascinating semi-abandoned mining town (I forget the name of the place, whoops.)
Also, a bit of an aside: as a child, I read a story about a family who was driving their camper through the desert and they ran out of gas and this was before cell phones so they were stuck out there for so long that the kids had to resort to eating their crayons and glue. I had never driven through a desert before, and so I gotta say, I was experiencing a great deal of trepidation as I recalled their dire circumstances. Also I hadn’t thought far ahead enough to bring any glue or crayons. But seriously! To have been included in this wonderfully welcoming little group really truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I can’t really even articulate what a wild, weird day it was.
I will say though, that to realize that I was the only person, in a car of five weirdos, who was not some level of professional cat photographer… kind of left me questioning my life choices. Also, some life advice: if you find yourself surrounded by a herd of goats, pigs, and cows who are becoming increasingly aggressive and significantly less cute they initially appeared, when they realize you’ve only got one carrot left in your treat bag– you better just hurl it as far as you can in one direction, and run as fast as your boot-blistered feet will carry you in the other direction, and hope for the best.
Saturday! The day of the Oddities Flea Market! I was terrified and I don’t really know why. Walk around and look at gorgeous creations and drink a cocktail or two and take some pictures and do some shopping and meet some vendors and all of the wonderful people attending? Where’s the problem, exactly? Who knows. Like so many of you, I am plagued with anxiety and it doesn’t always make sense. I think I mostly just worry about what to do with myself. Like, what if I’m just standing around being dumb and useless? Or what if I meet someone and I don’t know what to say? Or, what if I trip and fall going up the stairs? Or what if I have a freakout and have to disappear and ghost a room full of friends? (All of these things actually happened.)
Packed with so many amazing artists and creators, the Market was a heady and breathtaking embarrassment of riches. And lovelier still was the opportunity to say hello and strike up conversations with the brilliant and talented crafters of said treasures. I gaped in wonderment at lurid wax clowns, perverse porcelain teacups, and enchanting taxidermic tableaux; I gazed with an unhinged sort of longing at a glorious, glimmering sea of baubles and books and art, and I sniffed a bunch of beautiful fragrances, too! It was almost too much loveliness to bear. Unless, of course, you’re a greedy goblin, like me. In which case it was just the perfect amount of loveliness and I stalwartly bore it all home with me in my luggage.
Highlights are too beautiful and numerous to mention, which might sound like hyperbole and also makes me sound like maybe I’m just too lazy to come up with any, but it’s true! Also, I feel weird and/or tacky and/or invasive of someone’s privacy in mentioning the specific folks by name that I met and gave enthusiastic but hopefully not inappropriately-too-long hugs to, but if I did meet you and we had an amazing conversation about writing and wrestling and bridoplasty, well–you’re extraordinary and I adore you and I am so glad we finally met! It was equally fantastic and fantastically humbling to meet the marvelous handful of Haute Macabre readers who approached me to say that they recognized my weird face (I’m paraphrasing) and that they wanted to take a moment to say hello to me. You guys. My heart! So full. It was so nice to meet all of you and I hope I wasn’t too awkward and nervous and sweaty with you. You made my whole weekend.
Other things that made my weekend: Getting to hang out briefly with the lovely duo Alyssa and Layla of The Creeping Museum, whose artful ventures I have written about several times over the years and I’d been dying to meet ever since; visiting Clifton’s Cafeteria, an apparent institution which I’d never even heard of and now I think I might be slightly obsessed; gingerly poking around an unfamiliar city all on my own for the first time in my life, and discovering a life-changing vegan breakfast sammie…and, while not exactly a highlight, there was an elusive sushi burrito that I never did get to devour, so for that reason alone, I guess I have to come back.
In summation, Los Angeles, I was wrong and I am sorry. You’re a beautiful place full of beautiful people; I’ll return for more of you one day, and dammit, I’ll get that dodgy burrito eventually.
(Have you eaten a sushi burrito? Is it amazing as I want to believe? Or was it a sort of meh experience and maybe I should just let that dream die? Let me know!)
Dear Los Angeles,
I love you. I have always loved you, and I shall always love you. I cannot wait to come back into your arms with ample free time to fall in love over and over again. This trip was mostly work for me, but as I adore what I do and the wonderful people that I work with, I happily oblige.
Highlights of my week:
Eating my way through practically the entire menu at My Vegan Gold. If I have the green bowl as an entree, it cancels out the appetizer nachos, right?
Having a mind-blowing tarot reading with Sarah Faith Gottesdiener. If she opens her books for new clients, I cannot recommend her highly enough. I’ll be saving the intimate details for myself, however I will say she is an incredibly gifted intuitive reader. Her remote monthly Tarotscopes are consistently dead on accurate and applicable, and an in person reading shook me to the core (in the very best way possible).
Hollywood Forever, forever – I used to take my lunch breaks there when I worked on Santa Monica Blvd many years ago! The grounds are as beautiful as I remember them, and the “follow the goth” rule will always lead you to the grave you’re looking for when you can’t make sense of the map.
I’d also like to know more about this Occasional Wife behind us.
Stories Books and Cafe on Sunset, where I spent all the money I told myself I wasn’t going to spend on myself. Books (like vegan nachos) don’t count.
And, of course, the Oddities Flea Market, where I got to meet so many of you beautiful and amazing people. I am so grateful for you readers and the community you have all created, a place in which I feel welcome and at ease. Thank you for that.