Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Brunch

Hollywood Assistants like brunch. To say brunch is the best meal ever is like saying the sky is blue. It’s just so obvious. Brunch crams two meals into one and therefore provides you with double the options and double the tastiness. It’s a total win-win situation. Us Hollywood Assistants look forward to this time each and every week. Working 12 hour days Monday thru Friday can be a bitch. So when weekend comes we like to reward ourselves with a special meal. And luckily, Los Angeles loves brunch just as much as we do.

Brunch in Los Angeles isn’t just a meal, it’s an event. They say the streets are lined with dreams here, but in reality they’re lined with brunch spots. There’s nothing better than getting together with a group of friends after a Saturday night at The Bar and recounting all the details. Being able to remind your friend about how she made out with that William Morris trainee over an omelet is awesome. Finding out you passed out in a booth in front of your co-workers who you barely know over pancakes isn’t so awesome. But, hey, at least you’re at brunch AKA the best meal ever, and when pancakes are involved nothing can really be that bad.

Los Angeles takes their brunches very seriously. So seriously, in fact, there’s a tier system. Three tiers, actually. Here is how they break down:

Tier 1 Diners and Chains: This tier is the lowest of them all. It includes restaurants like Swingers, IHop and Mel’s. One usually frequents these places when pinching dimes. Sure, you want brunch, but your wallet isn’t agreeing with you (did you really need to buy you and your friends those two fish bowls at Happy Ending?). One may also dine here if they are with a group of straight and fratty boys. Straight and fratty boys love these places for brunch, because to them it’s technically not brunch. It’s either breakfast or lunch. Only straight and fratty boys who are comfortable enough with themselves and have fine taste buds admit to ‘brunching’ and go to places in other tiers. Other examples of Tier 1 Brunching spots: Yukon Mining Company, Norm’s, Canter’s

Tier 2 Trendy, yet Reasonable: This tier is the most common for brunch. It includes restaurants like Toast, Kings Road Café and The Griddle. The restaurants in this tier are cool, though won’t end up costing you a million dollars. You might run into someone you interned with, yet also spot an actor from 24. These places are where us Hollywood Assistants feel most at ease. We can gossip, be seen and not have to worry about how we’ll pay for our next meal. This is where we go to shoot the shit. Just be careful about who you’re shooting the shit about as someone from the other table is probably their Facebook friend. Other examples of Tier 2 Brunching spots: Quality Café, Grub, Lulu’s.

Tier 3 Fancy and Reserved for When the Parents are in Town: This tier is for all the restaurants that are way too expensive for us Hollywood Assistants. Though, if there’s a special occasion (and we’ve saved up) or someone else is paying the bill, we’ll go. This tier includes restaurants like Campanile, Grace, BLD. It’s not really that we can’t afford to go to these places. It’s just that we don’t. But one day we will. Other examples: Polo Lounge, The Ivy, Hatfield’s

One place that offers a brunch in Los Angeles that doesn’t really fit into any tier is Saddle Ranch. Yeah, that Saddle Ranch. Did you know you could go there, order breakfast and for just $10 more get unlimited mimosas and Bloody Mary’s? Well, you can. And it’s kind of awesome. The clientele might be full of Rock of Love rejects, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Whether you’re a Hollywood Assistant, an Olly Girl or from the Inland Empire, it doesn’t really matter. And when us Hollywood Assistants are drunk enough we don’t judge.

Learning about your friends shames/embarrassments from the night before isn’t as much fun if it’s not in person and over food. Brunch is the special time for all us Hollywood Assistants to congregate after a wild night out. We might be hungover/nauseous or looking like we just got hit by a truck or even still in the clothes we wore the night before (hello, one night stand), but who cares? This is our time to stuff our faces and act like the twentysomethings we often forget we are. Breakfast and lunch never tasted so good.

WHERE: Every other block in this town
COST: Tier 1: under $10, Tier 2: $10-$20, Tier 3: Over $20

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Outsider

Hollywood Assistants like The Outsider.

It was a typical Thursday night, out at an open bar celebrating…art? music? charity? honestly no idea we were at the bar the whole time…and I started chatting with a friend's roommate.

"So…you work in what?"

"Finance?"

"Financing…films?"

"No, just finance – hedge funds.*"

"Like…Over the Hedge the movie?"

"No. I just deal with money."

"Dirty Sexy Money?"

"No…just normal money."

"Huh," under our breath, "Weird." Trying to be nice, "That's cool. So what do assistants do over there in..um…fiiine…feeen…fun…?"

"Finance. I'm not an assistant, I'm an Associate."

"Wow! How long have you been working in…you know…that word?"

"Finance. Oh I just started after I graduated in May."

"May…2008?"

"Yes."

(Insert "Incredulous Face" emoticon here) "Yeah I have to go."

Now, we're not ones for statistics, because our communication/film majors did not require any math pre-requisites, but based on an informal survey taken by those we interact with, just about 96% of people living in Los Angeles work in entertainment, and of those, about 99% haven't regularly interacted with a non-entertainment person since college. This is surely close to whatever the official census taken indicates, we're sure, which is why when we meet someone working in (what was it? Fun dance? Fine ass?) something else, we are fascinated

Everyone has a term for them: Civilians. Outcasts. Who? Outsiders are fascinating creatures that the cunning anthropological eyes of Hollywood Assistants have studied in depth, and have noted several commonalities:

Disposition: These people are SO EXCITED ABOUT LIFE! And why shouldn't they be? They are young, they have social lives, they're making money and living in Los Angeles (usually on the West Side; they don't mind the 45 minute drive that gets them home at 6:45). They aren't clawing their way to a coordinator position, and while they take their jobs seriously, their jobs are not an all encompassing definition of their lives. Beyond their general excitement, they get excited about the littlest things. If they see you reading something at the beach – "Wow! Is that a script? Can I touch it?" If it's pilot season – "You mean you have a DVD of the show…BEFORE it airs? Is that legal?" And even discussing with them what you did at work today – "You mean you messengered something to Jerry Ferrara's HOUSE? You know TURTLE'S ADDRESS?" (they really all do love Turtle). No one minds a little ego massage, and it's nice to be reminded every now and then that, from an outsider's perspective, our lives are pretty cool too. Not cool enough to change the Hollywood Assistants' standard disposition of "jaded," but still.

Mating Habits: We're going to throw this out there right now: our industry social circle consists of a lot of chicks and a lot of gay men (so like…if you know anyone…). There's the few straight guys (all of whom have hooked up with at least one girl we know), and we're predicting a lesbian surge now that Lohan's made it trendy, but we generally have to look outside our circle to date. Cue The Outsider. The Outsider is either a dude who hangs out with other dudes watching football at Barney's (our common ground), or a girl who has no problem finding a plus one should the occasion arise. Bring an outsider into the group and you've opened up a brand new dating pool. In this sense, The Outsiders are gold.

Camouflage: The Outsiders look just like us, and usually blend in through a mutual friend. They generally know this friend from high school or college, and camouflage their outsider-ness during introductions by keeping to topics of conversation including how they know their friend, what they did last weekend, where they are from, etc. The camouflage quickly fades about five minutes into the conversation when they make their first slip up trying to talk shop, "Oh, yeah, I like Greg Berlanti in Brothers and Sisters too! Wait, he plays one of the brothers, right?" To quote the greatest cinematic achievement of all time "I love her, she's like a Martian." For the entertainment value alone, it's always fun when an outsider shows up to the party.

Oscar Pick-ology: In the weeks leading up to the Oscars, Hollywood Assistants agonize over their Oscar ballot picks. We read expert opinions, re-watch screeners, pencil in, erase, and finally come up with what are sure to be the perfect picks and submit one to five ballots in our friend and work groups. The most exciting of these ballots, of course, is the one in the running at the "live contest," specifically, whichever Oscar viewing house party we've hit up this year. Every year, though, it's that one house party guest with no industry affiliation who just "filled this out for fun" who just f-ing schools us. No one can pick best animated short like an outsider, and all the outsiders knew Crash was going to win best picture in 2006 (EVERY expert had Brokeback winning, EVERY one!). We still love them, though, because they can take our money, but they can never take our screeners.

Although seemingly harmless, be cautious when befriending The Outsider. While we like to know them, becoming too close has some risks. For example, they always want to meet for Happy Hour…at 6:30. Not even on a half day. They get really annoyed when you don't show up until 8:30. Try not to ask about their salaries. Aside from being tacky, it's going to be more than yours…way, way more. Don't even bother hating on The Hills with them, they think it could be real. And God forbid you run into a cast member of "The Real World." You would think it was Ben Silverman or something, the way they get so embarrassingly excited.

WHERE: Working downtown, residing on the west side

COST: You might have to loan out a few screeners, just for fun.

*As it stands, we don't really understand what hedge funds are. I think we heard the term on Wall Street…the movie.

Game Night

Hollywood Assistants like game night. All work, no play makes Hollywood Assistants very dull boys and girls. That’s why we love game night! During the day we sit at our desks answering calls or sit in our cars running errands, so when night comes all we want is some good old fashioned, uninhibited fun. It’s always nice to be able to resort to our kid-like selves and take our minds off the trials and tribulations of work. Thank God for game night, our weekly savior. Except unlike when we were kids, alcohol is now always involved when we play games.

If someone had told me when I was in college that the highlight of my workweek at the age of 25 would be game night, I’d tell them they were crazy. I wasn’t going to be that kind of 25 year old and if I were then I would be a total loser. But now here I am at 25 and there is nothing I’d like to do more than play games on a Wednesday night. With our lives so hectic, being able to get together with a group of friends to play Taboo or Charades is very comforting. For those few hours we can forget about how our boss reamed us out for forgetting to follow up on that lunch meeting or how our co-worker got picked for the training program over us. When playing Scattergories it’s like none of it even matters anymore. Life takes a backseat. And like I said before, the alcohol usually helps.

Game night is a lot like Hollywood. It can be cut throat. What do you expect when you bring together a bunch of tense Hollywood Assistants? True colors come out and that’s when it’s revealed who’s a future agent and who’s a future staff writer. But don’t let game night get the best of you. In the end, it’s just a game. And winning really just allows bragging rights (though in this town that means a lot).

Also, thanks to Wii and Xbox game night has evolved into something even greater than just board games. Being a part of the Nintendo generation brought up on Duck Hunt, Super Mario Bros and Stadium Events (remember with the power pad?!), it’s no surprise that we are all obsessed with games like Guitar Hero and Wii Tennis. There’s nothing greater than starting up your very own band with friends via Rock Band. Band name? Assist This. Favorite Song to perform: Celebrity Skin by Hole. Because now we all know what Courtney Love meant when she sang “Wilted and faded somewhere in Hollywood.”

Game night is not like going to Area where you could either have a hit or miss night. Game night is always a hit. Because if you’re with friends, in a relaxed environment, letting your true self come out, it’s guaranteed fun. So grab a bunch of friends, get out Apples to Apples and enjoy the moment. Because tomorrow at work, it won’t be all fun and games.

WHERE: Living rooms in the Fairfax district
COST: Around $25 for Apples to Apples (regular edition, bible edition and Jewish edition, for real)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

One Night Stands

Hollywood Assistants like one night stands. Its 10:30am on a Sunday, and you awake with a pounding headache to the familiar sight of your apartment's lovely 70's-era popcorn ceiling. Except, your popcorn ceiling is more of an ecru color... not off-white. And you don't remember hanging a Scarface poster above your bed. And you're pretty sure that you bought the Hemnes dresser from Ikea, not the Aneboda. Suddenly a fleshy, hairy arm whacks you in the face and you realize.... uh-oh. You've done it again. You drank one too many mojitos, threw caution to the wind, and passionately lunged at the first thing to come at you from the direction of the beer pong tables. That's right. You've gone home with a fellow assistant.

We assistants are human. We have our needs. And like any normal, young, hormonal person, we have itches that sometimes need a good scratching. Our lives aren't exactly conducive to courtship. We work long hours and can barely scrape two nickels together to buy a can of beans for dinner. Grand romantic gestures are out. And forget the stereotypical American life plan of settling down, buying a house, and popping out a couple puppies. We've got our careers to think about and real estate in LA is f-in expensive... not to mention private school tuition. It's going to be YEARS before you're ready for those steps. So instead, when temptation calls and the alcohol hits just right and throws us into that "special mood", we grab onto the closest thing available and ride it down like you'd ride a firefighter down a burning building.

One night stands can be a lot of fun and incredibly fulfilling. But there are just a couple of guidelines you should follow in order to ensure that your one night stand is pleasure, not cringe, inducing.

1. DON'T have one with anyone from work, or anyone you regularly deal with in your work day. Whether it’s your office crush or the studio exec's assistant that you speak with 10 times daily, a one night stand can never truly be contained in one night if they're constantly seeking your attention. Sex is messy (in more ways than one) and if you're dealing frequently with someone you've slept with, then feelings are going to get involved. Or, at the very least, you'll have an ill-timed shag flashback and your boss will demand to know why you're flushed and distracted. Blurring the line between your bedroom and your office is a dangerous thing to do, so approach it with caution.

2. DON'T become a frequent flier in a group of friends. It's very easy to fall in with a group of people you see socially and begin to feel at ease with them. Hell, they all like each other, so why shouldn't you like all of them? And attractive people tend to flock together - that's just a rule of physics. But pick which of them you sleep with very carefully. They'll talk and compare stories, and nobody wants to be the group bicycle. You should only allow 1 of them to take a ride. Okay, maybe 2, but only if they’re both hot. Remember that Hollywood is like high school and stories spread fast. A friend once told me about sitting in on a meeting with a bunch of execs. They were waiting on one (female) exec to show up, and while they bitched and moaned about how long she was taking, one of the guys in the room boasted about how he nailed her 10 years ago. Every other guy in the room then chimed in that they'd nailed her at one point, too. Industry folks might be able to "forget" that Sienna Miller has never had a box office hit, but they will never forget all the people they've heard you screwed. So try not to overlap by having one night stands with people who know one another.

3. DO follow up appropriately. Gents, this is more for you. There's no Miss Manners for one-nighters. You're the best judge of your situation. So if it feels right to you, then by all means offer to take your overnight guest out for a bite of brunch. It doesn't have to be the Ivy, but do her a solid and make it something a step up from the Yukon Mining Company. If you're not feeling the chemistry, then make sure that she gets home safely. You get a gold star if you drive her home yourself. Putting her in a cab is also perfectly acceptable, but always offer her cab fare. Odds are she won't take it (in which case, score! You can afford dinner tonight). Only a true douche kicks a girl to the curb without helping her find the way home. Be sensitive to others’ walk of shame anxiety. You've been there, or you will be there, so it’s a good idea to keep karma on your side.

4. DO use protection. Not to go all high school PE teacher on you, but come on guys... use a condom. Although we agree with sex goddess Tracie "Slut Machine" Egan, who says that if you're getting laid then an STD is kind of an eventuality, it's an eventuality that can at least be put off. And like I mentioned above, Hollywood is like high school. If you're spreading something around, people are going to find out. You don't want to be at El Guapo and overhear someone calling you the "Herpes King", do you? And while it's fairly easy to get rid of many crotch infestations these days, it will require that you go see your doctor for a pill or some cream, and your boss is totally going to dock you a personal day for that. Not to mention that you can't even begin to afford the biggest social disease of them all... a baby. So remember to shrink wrap your member. (A helpful message from your friends at SHAL).

We're not encouraging you to go out and have promiscuous sex. But hey, shit happens, so if you do "do it" don't feel bad about it. Just make sure you're entering the situation in the right frame of mind. Sex is natural, baby, and you know you want it. So relax, lie back, and let the good times roll.

WHERE: Full-size beds with Target sheets all over town.
COST: $17.12 for a box of 36 Trojan condoms on Amazon.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Barney's

Hollywood Assistants like Barney’s Beanery. Seriously, what’s not to like? It’s a bar that serves beer by the pitcher, has more flat screen TVs than a Best Buy and is full of Hollywood Assistants hoping to get laid. Barney’s is basically all the good things in life rolled up into one fine establishment in Los Angeles (fine, there’s also one in Santa Monica as well as in Pasadena and one is opening in Burbank soon. But for the purpose of this post we are referring to the one on Santa Monica Blvd, which is obviously the best one anyway).

I don’t know much about football or basketball or even baseball. Sure, I have favorite teams and know the basic rules of each game, but I couldn’t tell you who was in first place or what teams won Saturday’s games if it killed me. Nevertheless, I love going to Barney’s to watch said games because let’s be honest I don’t spend much time watching them at all. Rather I am drinking until I get wasted and eating until I am stuffed. The food at Barney’s is incredible. Greasy, huge proportions, it’s the best food in the world to eat while drinking. Diet Shmiet? You’re having so much fun boozing and pigging out the calories mean nothing. And sometimes it’s nice to go somewhere in LA where ordering a big, fat burger gives you no nasty grimaces.

Barney’s is so laid back it really doesn’t matter what you look like when you walk through the doors. Heels? Hell no! A tie? You want to get your ass kicked? Boys wear football jerseys and girls can wear whatever they want. Girls could wear sweatpants and still have a gaggle of guys trying to hit on them. Barney’s was made for flip flops, jeans and t-shirts. And let’s face it, while we’re in our monkey suits at our jobs all week it’s nice to be able to not care what we look like on the weekends. Human Resources won’t be on our butt for not following the proper dress code at Barney’s nor will our co-workers think we’re slutty for wearing short shorts.

The only downside to Barney’s is the lighting. It’s way too bright for a place where people incessantly try to pick up other people. That why you have to drink double. The drunker you get the hotter people become is like the number one rule in going out to meet people. Since Barney’s is so damn sunny, in order to make people more attractive drinking more is a necessity. Which is something I don’t mind…

For good beer, good food and good fun, Barney’s is the place to be. From football on the flat screens to karaoke three nights a week, this is a spot for us Hollywood Assistants to let our hair down and pretend like we’re still in college. Not only is Barney’s one of our favorite bars in the city, but it’s also a Los Angeles institution. So many famous and historic people boozed and dined there. Janis Joplin had her final screwdriver here! Now that’s something cool to tell your friends from home about your local drinking site. In a non-name dropping kind of way, of course.

WHERE: 8447 Santa Monica Blvd. Hollywood, CA 90069
COST: Cheap (just like you'll feel after giving the guy in the Raiders jersey your number)