February 11, 2011

Palm Trees to Parkas: the Los Angeles / Ottawa / Picton weekend

Me 'n' David Fransen, the Canadian Consul General.

Hello from Hollywood! My wife and I just spent three very jam-packed and fun-filled days down here in gorgeous Los Angeles, daily temperature 25 degrees Celsius without a cloud in the sky.

We stayed at a kooky little boutique hotel on Fairfax Avenue called Farmer’s Daughter, so named because it was across the street from LA’s famous Farmer’s Market. It was an old 1950s style motel renovated to modern LA-chique, farm girl style. Pretty cool place, thanks to Tim “MusicSoop” Aarons for the suggestion.

On our first night, Jill and I strolled up Fairfax and had dinner at a swank restaurant called ANIMAL, no sign or anything, just a few doors up from Canter’s Deli. Excellent restaurant with, as could be guessed, mostly meat on the menu. One of the few “vegetarian” selections was actually poutine, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise when I looked to our left and saw the Arcade Fire sitting one table over. We had a nice chat with them and congratulated them on their three massive Grammy nominations.

The following morning, I had brunch with my ol’ pal Ronnie Barnett, bass player of the Muffs, an LA band celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. A great guy and a great band.

That afternoon, Jill and I accepted an invitation to attend a Grammy Songwriting Circle being hosted by HBO, so we cabbed it over to Santa Monica to huge HBO headquarters, the grounds of which contain private tennis courts, an outdoor gym, running track and pool! Those True Blood actors have to stay ripped, after all! It was fairly thrilling to stand amongst the HBO executives, producers, music supervisors and writers, the same people that have created some of my all time favourite shows (Deadwood, Curb Your Enthusiam, Oz, Carnivale, The Wire, Eastbound and Down, Big Love, etc) while watching four Grammy nominated country artists sing their tunes acoustically in HBO’s lounge. The jewel of the circle was the gritty Lucinda Williams, who these days looks like a cross between Leather Tuscadero and Keith Richards. She sounded awesome.

The reason we made the trip was for the annual Canadian Grammy celebration at the Canadian Consul General’s mansion in Hollywood, a gorgeous, classic LA location for a poolside party. It would have been very difficult to top last year’s live performances of K’Naan, Hey Rosetta, Dan Mangan, Emmylou Harris, Daniel Lanois and Leonard Cohen, but the folks at Canadian Blast did their best, with showcases from a Grammy-nominated cello quartet, a band from Toronto called Young Empires, and the star of the night, Little Scream, an experimental Montreal singer-songwriter who was raised on hard rock but sounds more like a cross between Cat Power and Owen Pallet. Richard Reed Parry, bassist from the Arcade Fire, joined Little Scream on drums for several songs. It was fun once again to co-host the night with the charming, friendly, and ever-youthful Rick Campanelli, and the Consul General from LA, David Fransen, is an awesome guy.

We capped off the night with a dinner at a packed and fancy Mexican restaurant called Red O on Melrose with singer-songwriter Adrienne Pierce (an old high school friend of mine) and my LA connection Tim Aarons. Pretty great food but the atmosphere was almost too over-the-top LA.

It’s another spectacular day in the City of Angels this morning, but alas, our short stay in the La-La Land is over, as today Jill and I board a flight to Ottawa for a friend’s wedding.

On Sunday we’ll both be at Books and Company in Picton Ontario for my next book event! Hope to see you there if you’re in the area!

(3) Comments

  1. John "tb3" says:

    You had dinner with the bassist from The Muffs?
    What a Lucky Guy!

  2. Chris Kelly says:

    Great dispatch! Wish I could be in sunny LA.

  3. Grant Lawrence says:

    hey Mr C – you were missed! everybody asked about you…

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