Stage Two of Another NASTYbook
Getting into LA late, I huff along breakneck to make the cocktail party at Arianna Huffington's house during the LA Times Book Fest. I'm going to meet the admirable Arianna, as I've recently started blogging at Huffingtonpost. "Glad you're able to vent, and connect with fellow venters!" sniped the neo-Thatcherite new-media mogul who helped make it happen. Well, touché. But it beats continuously just hurling the NY Times to the floor and mashing out incoherent letters to the editor. Or roaring at dinner parties until one is forbidden to mention politics at table.
And when major-media's role as democracy watchdog is being honored mainly by Comedy Central, well, what's not to thank Huffpost and its barking blog fellows?
The big house in Brentwood is, naturally, a mob scene. I squeeze in to say my hiya to Arianna, four seconds worth. She is surprisingly tall, and powerfully glamorous, with a splendid smile and a great mane of hair. The honoree of the evening is her pal
Kathy Freston, also very tall, glamorous, with a great mane of hair ? and a new practical-spiritual book, The One, about finding your soul mate (this is LA, after all; and Freston is married to the head of Viacom). As someone who wrote a book called The Sadness of Sex, I'm kinda sniffy on the topic of finding love with the aid of a manual. But Arianna's little host speech offers a pretty nice notion of true soul mate, I must say: a person who makes you experience yourself in your best version (something like that). Not bad, not bad.
Then out the door, more breakneck huffing, to UCLA for the LA Times Book Fest Prizes. They're already underway as I find my friends Tom and Cherie in the dark... the dull the dowdy the droning dark. (Can I be candid?) It's all done à la the Oscars, but where's the dreamy Oscar personnel? At least Gabriel Garcia Marquez's son offers some urbane flair with his acceptance speech for his dad; and the Swedish winner of the young adult category has bite. At long last it's the final award, to Joan Didion. The grand frail forlorn lady moves slowly toward the stage ? "Come on, let's go eat!" whispers Tom. And so I have to get up and leave, and miss Didion's speech entirely.
Out on the terrace we wolf away at the buffet. And talk Cuba with journalist Ann Louise Bardach and Anna-Marie O'Connor, who covered the island for years for the LA Times. My friend Tom, who's kind of a legend of LA radio on KCRW-FM (he helped break world music onto American airwaves) has just had a visit from Andy Garcia, who read about Tom's super home sound system. They'll start listening together. (He'll also be a guest on Tom's show, Café LA). We exchange varying opinions on Garcia's new Cuban movie, The Lost City??? but for sure, Garcia will have some super old Cuban stuff on vinyl. I'm a big Latin music fan; wish I could be there.
Next day I'm at a Book Fest outdoor booth, hawking copies of Another NASTYbook to the passing young. One of my booth mates, small world, is Lisa Brown, who lives in San Francisco with her husband and young kid. "Heard you had a fine lunch at Zuni," she tells me. Lisa is author/illustrator of a groovy new picture book, How to Be ? and also a very saucy picture-book series, the size of drink coasters, with the tagline "Baby be of use." I browse the one titled Baby, Mix Me a Drink. Hmm???maybe next, Baby, Hurl Me a Chair? (See yesterday's post.)
For dinner, Tom and Cherie and I hit AOC, the new tapas-style hotspot from the owner of the highly regarded Luque. Tom and I go way back, we've had great times on air with me as a guest DJ (a memorable show, "The Music of Co-Dependency"). And we've together discovered the glories of Latin music over the years. But we differ seriously on wine. He likes those great big vibrant high-alcohol bombers. He sips a big intense Cotes du Rhone now, and taunts my little Puglian rose aperitif. I order a Puglian red next, but it's tight and narrow (is this wine talk?). So I do something, well, nasty. "Hey, look at that," I exclaim, and when Tom and Cherie turn their heads to see, I surreptitiously switch glasses with him. His wine is indeed tasty. "How's your Cotes du Rhone doing?" I ask guilelessly. Tom sips my wine. "Great," he assures me. Which goes to show about taste, doesn't it?
Speaking of taste, the James Beard Award last night went to Mario Batali's book, not my girlfriend Anya's. Let's be gracious and say I hear Mario's book is wonderful. (And besides, Anya's won the award twice before, so let's share the wealth, shall we?)
On to Chicago???