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Dreaming of France: 29 Avenue Rapp

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Scrolling through my Instagram& finding this image, I’m surprised I haven’t shared this particular French door for Dreaming of France before. 29 Avenue Rapp boasts what might be the most famous door in Paris. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful.



Designed by Jules Lavirotte in 1901 it’s a striking example of Art Nouveau architecture and features the very risque sculpted Adam and Eve above the door. I first saw the building in the movie Gigi as the building where Gigi's Aunt Alicia lives and where Gigi goes for her lessons in how to catch the right man. Preferably someone rich like Gaston.

Naturally when Mark and I visited Paris, we had to pay the building a visit. What struck us about 29 Avenue Rapp was how many people just walk on by, as if were nothing special, just another old stone edifice, the door, just another entry. I think even if I lived on the block, even if I saw the building and its door every single day, I would still have to pause and take it in. Not a whole …

Top Ten Things I bet you didn’t know about L.A.

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1) So how come they’re not on the postcard?
Most of us picture palm trees when we think of L.A., but the coral tree, not the palm, is the official tree of our city. Sometimes called Tiger Claws, the coral trees found along the median strip of San Vicente Blvd in Brentwood, that stretch of the boulevard from 26th Street to Brigham Avenue where once a rail track ran, and now everyone on the Westside runs, are actually designated cultural historical monuments.  The Coral Tree is the official tree of Los Angeles There ought to be a plaque
2) Hot Dog!
We baseball fans love our Dodger dogs as much as we love the boys in blue. More hot dogs are eaten at Chavez Ravine – over 2 million a baseball year—than in any other major league ballpark in the country!
3) How much by the glass?
We take for granted that when we go to the Getty, we’re going to get one of those great L.A. city views. What’s unexpected is what we see as the museum’s tram traverses the hill— a six acre vineyard growing on a steeply…

Jane Wells in 805 Living Magazine

My interview with Jane Wells, the broadcast journalist who covers business news at MSNBC came out in the April issue of 805Living. For those of you unfamiliar with the magazine, it was just nominated for a Maggy for best overall design which is pretty nifty to say the least. It's published in Westlake Village, California for the communities of the Conejo Valley and surrounding areas. Basically, we cover from Calabasas to Camarillo... with an emphasis on Agoura, Oak Park, Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, and Newbury Park. It's mostly a lifestyle magazine, highlighting great places to shop, eat, and go to plus we also highlight notable and interesting people who live in the area.
Hopefully I'll be able to link to it or post it here in the future. In the meantime you have to pick it up in the Conejo.

I Was a Cosmetic Copy writer

I was a copywriter at Max Factor for about five years back in the eighties. I came up with shade names, wrote package copy and created names for products too.
Here, a piece inspired by that work.
Maybe you’ve never heard of me but I’m the one you listen to in your heart of hearts. I’m the one who tells you how to be.
I’m the cosmetic copy writer. Maybe I named your lipstick or told you exactly how to apply your blush. Maybe it was a little thing like putting on your mascara. Now you remember. “For big, fat lashes that last and last. Smudgeproof. Smearproof. Even kissproof.” Yes! That was me.
I’m the one you run to when your mirror makes you moan. It’s me you turn to when Johnny Angel picks Carol Ann -- not you -- to take to the Senior Prom. Let’s face it. Without me you’re nothing. No one will ever love you. You’ll never have a boyfriend. You’re ugly. A pale, pimply, lipless, lashless, small-eyed, big-nosed, mousy-haired gnome. You are the walrus! Koo koo kachoo.
I’m the cosmetic copy wri…

Signs of Spring

It must be Spring. The leaves that fell from the tree last fall and landed on the patio have been rained on and rerained on so many times they’ve formed a rich carpet of mulch on the cement that only a shovel will be able to remove. The umbrella that was hanging from the front hall chair has been put away deep in the closet and the empty planter swinging from the shepherd’s hook just beyond our front door is crying out for color. A pair of ducks from the pond across the street, a dazzling green headed male and his mousy brown spouse, have taken up residence on the lawn across from our townhouse. The hills are still so green here in the Conejo that if you squint and block out the freeway exit signs you can almost trick yourself into believing you’re in Ireland on holiday. And at the end of the month, the kids at least, will be on spring break.
Maybe the luck of the Irish has rubbed off on you and you’re off to some exotic locale - far enough away to escape your day to day world as well …

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Enough about my stories. I'm sick of my writing. What I'm not sick of is the writing of Khaled Hosseini. I am only 1/4th of the way into The Kite Runner, an exquisite book by Hosseini that is part fiction and part anthropology lesson. Set in Afghanistan, a country whose name formerly conjured up not much more than a rocky barren landscape with sheeted blurs for people -- those people,now one sees, are very much like you and me. From their blue jeans to their weakness of character. Hosseini has painted his country with a rich mixture of colors and textures, hate and love, pity and shame. I was shocked to find it such a beautiful and moving book! If you haven't read it take the word of the NY Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Isabel Allende and more and get thee to a bookstore or a library or Amazon.com quick. I can hardly wait to finish blogging so I can crawl into my bed and read right now.
To learn more about Khaled Hosseini check out his website at http://www.khaledhoss…

T.C. Boyle's "Chicxulub" in the New Yorker

I've been writing up events for the April 2005 edition of 805Living magazine and I came across the fact that Santa Barbara author, T.C. Boyle, will be reading his own story Chicxulub at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara on April 18. I was even told he's one of the few writers who actually does a superb job at this. Which lead me to look the story up and give it a read. It's the kind of thing that makes a writer cry. First, because it's so moving, you'd have to be a clump of clay not to cry and Second, because it's so rich and real and f'ing brilliant! I'm including here for you to read - even though it highlights what a crap writer I am ESPECIALLY in comparison - and including the New Yorker link. Every month they include a short story that you can print out and read offline. Damn nice of them, don't you think.To read Chicxulub now, click on the Read More. To go to the New Yorker click on the title.

February 28, 2005 home

CHICXULUB
by T. CORAGHESSAN …

The Perfect Post ... A Brilliant Blog

Blogging along and feeling groovy when I'm suddenly struck with a nasty case of perfectionism.
Shouldn't blogging - like an old fashioned diary - be free-form, stream of conscious, loosey-goosey, yeah- that's what I'm talkin' about!? Yet I'm weighted down by some inate writer's tendency to hone and shape and craft and revise the hell out of any and all posts. Shitty first drafts, be gone! I log in, you know, just to see how this new little blog of mine is looking and before I know it I'm editing past posts, tweaking the type, picking at my profile like it's a bad sunburn starting to peel. And it's driving me mad. Help. Someone. I want to move on, I don't want to get blogged down in my own neurotic need to create the perfect post, the beginnings of a brilliant blog. Won't someone out there tell me what to do?!?!

Speaking of Bernard Cooper

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Updated:  Bernard Cooper was doing personal essays so long, long ago... back in the day when english teachers and editors all said stay away from "I".

I remember reading "Maps to Anywhere" and feeling that I had found my personal compass rose. I lost my way somewhere on my writing journey and when a friend suggested she'd prefer to see my pieces, based on my life, as short stories, to see my life 'fictionalized', and I set to writing short stories that all grew out of my reality.  

They didn't just lack imagination, they lacked realism. I'm back to struggling with memoir, even if it does feel like a whole lot of me, the me feels authentic and true. That's the goal anyway. 



Thelink takes you to Vimeo and a reading by Cooper from The Bill from my Father: A Memoir

For some of my personal essays start here

TOP 10 CLASSIC ROCK ‘N ROLL LOVE SONGS

I heard it on the radio ... so it must be true ... these are the top ten rock 'n roll songs. Anybody out there want to weigh in? What's your personal top ten?

10. In Your Eyes - Peter Gabriel
9. All I Want is You - U2
8. Sweet Child of Mine - Guns n Roses
7. Wild Horses - Rolling Stones
6. I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston
5. Let’s Stay Together - Al Green
4. Natural Woman - Aretha Franklin
3. Something - The Beatles
2. Can’t help Falling in Love - Elvis
1. God Only Knows - The Beach Boys (Paul McCartney has called this the greatest song of all times!and who am I to disagree?)

Living with Alzheimer's

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At first my mother would ask the same questions over and over again. "When is Nancy coming over?" or “What does your husband do for a living?” repeated every five minutes like a loop. She would forget that she had three brothers or that all of them were dead. That I had to go to work and couldn’t go shopping that day.

Then she began to let her tea kettle boil dry and her bath overflow. When my brother installed a shutoff device in the tub in case she went to check her mail and left the water running again she didn't thank him for saving her from a problem, she cursed him for the inconvenience.
“I was barely gone a minute” she complained bitterly “and all the water drained out of my bath!”
‘Thank God', we said to ourselves, ‘at least she didn’t ruin her neighbor’s carpet again.’ 
The first two times that she forgot she was running herself a bath, the water had seeped right through the walls and the floorboards to the apartment next door. 

She was furious, insulted even, wh…

One more reason to hate laundry...

My son, who shall remain nameless - “Mom, don’t you dare write about me! That’s not fair!” came home today from a week of Outdoor Education in Malibu. Outdoor Education is a program for sixth graders who get to spend a week at Camp Bloomfield in the Santa Monica Mountains. The kids don’t just look at pictures of tide pools, they hike it down to the Pacific Ocean and get their feet wet.They don’t just talk about astronomy. They go out on a night hike and see the stars first hand.
But it's the rainy season here in California so this idyllic sounding time in the great outdoors of sunny Southern California wasn’t quite what you might think. While “sunblock” was on the list of must-bring items, it had to be the least-used item they packed … unless you count the toothpaste! And when I unzipped his duffel bag to get at the laundry - because, God knows I love to do laundry - I found his extra pair of shoes (drenched), soaked socks (none matching), a dripping wet pair of khakis and his yell…

Interviewing Jane Wells

I've been skittish for a week knowing today was coming. I had an appointment to interview a journalist for 805Living magazine. We're doing a new page for the end of the book featuring local people of note, be they celebrities or interesting, influential folks who live in the Conejo Valley area. My interview was with Jane Wells, an Emmy award winning, Peabody prize winning, super successful broadcast journalist on MSNBC.
And, yes I was nervous. It's not as though I've tried to pass myself off as a journalist. I'm not! I like to write personal essays, short stories, the occasional article and yes, I might have to interview someone in regards to that but HEY! Jane Wells reported on the OJ Case for pete's sake. What the heck did I know about interviewing someone like her?
In reality, the piece is intended to be fun and light, so there really shouldn't have been any pressure ... except the pressure I pile on myself!
I'd requested a bio which she emailed me and…