Wednesday, May 28, 2008
El Guapo translates to The Handsome. And like Malo, El Guapo is just trying to be ironic in its name. Because seriously this bar is pretty gnarly. The floors are covered in beer and the place smells like margaritas, PBR, tacos and Drakaar Noir. El Guapo is a place where flip flops do not fare well. Not only is there a chance your feet might get doused in beer but by wearing flip flops you might also get stuck to the floors (and I mean literally. This has happened to me and it’s not fun).
Thankfully the saving grace of El Guapo is the beer pong. There are tables surrounded throughout where you can start a game with a few old friends or some new ones and play beer pong until your heart's desire. You can even play flip cup if you really want to be ambitious. And the best part about it is that no one ever judges you. You can be old, young, rich, poor, fat, skinny, it doesn’t matter one bit. Because at El Guapo everyone has the love of the game of beer pong in their blood. An added bonus is the yearly Hollywood Assistants Beer Pong tournament. This is where the most “athletic” assistants from the studios, big production companies and major agencies/management companies participate in a friendly (or unfriendly) tournament to establish which company in Hollywood has the best aim. The tournament is like the World Series for us assistants. And unfortunately, even in beer pong CAA is actually kind of good. They’re like the Yankees. Damn CAA.
Sure, by midnight the bathrooms are probably flooded and there’s usually puke in the sink but that’s the best part of El Guapo. It’s a place to play some beer pong, watch sports games, get wasted and maybe make out with someone whose name you won’t even remember the next day. There are no frills to this place whatsoever. But that’s the beauty of El Guapo.
WHERE: 7250 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
COST: Too drunk to even care
Hollywood Assistants like The Bar. If it seems like all we ever do is work, drink, go out to eat, and bitch about this town…well, then you might be onto something. Because that’s pretty much exactly what we do. With that in mind, I am pleased to bring you yet another bar that I love love love – a charming little joint on Sunset by the 101 called The Bar.
The Bar is a little hole in the wall next to a gas station and across the street from Tribune Studios. It’s on kind of a barren stretch of Sunset, but that doesn’t matter, because you won’t want to leave. This is not a bar-hopping bar. This is a make-yourself-comfortable-and-drink-till-closing bar. It’s owned by the same people who brought you Magnolia (yum!) and Bar Chloe in
The Bar is really low key and on the smaller side, with a teensy smoking porch out back. The smoking porch is usually the place to be. Let’s be honest: smoking might kill you, but people who smoke are often entertaining. On many weekend nights they bring in fun DJs. It’s not really a dancing place, but with the right DJ it can be. On more than one occasion I’ve seen girls doing their best Paris Hilton impression on top of the banquettes. It’s one of those places where all of a sudden “Sweet Child of Mine” comes on, I’m three drinks in, and life can’t get much better.
I know we frequently use St. Nick’s as our bar touchstone (which pains me, it really does), but The Bar is like a polished version of St. Nick’s. The crowd is a little older and hipper, but not to an intimidating level. And not to name drop, but I’ve had some pretty solid celeb sightings there. I will always treasure my evening spent with Denny from Grey’s Anatomy and Elton from Clueless. I had a quasi-event at The Bar and Jeremy Piven showed up. The Pivs was at my party! Granted, he wasn’t actually there for my thing, but that’s not important. A Pivs sighting at your event automatically lends you Hollywood Street Cred.
The Bar is a solid, all-around fun place to go on a weekend night when you can’t deal with the LA scene. Good drinks, good company, and good music are guaranteed. Just don’t forget to let the Pivs know that you’ll be there… odds are that he might just turn up and you can have your own little Entourage moment.
WHERE: 5851 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood
COST: $5 for an Amstel Light, $8 for a vodka soda (at least, that's what I'm ordering.)
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Some of us Hollywood assistants are lucky enough to get free lunch everyday at work (usually brought right to our desk by an intern, score!). Others aren’t so fortunate and have to fork over their hard earned cash if they want to eat. Though, there’s always one thing I’ve found that’s free at any job in Hollywood: Diet Coke. Most office refrigerators are constantly stocked with can upon can of DC (that’s Diet Coke for all us fiends). And sometimes our jobs are so stressful that the only thing we even have time to consume during the day are a few cans of Diet Coke (best diet ever!). Plus that’s how you know if you have a bad job. No free Diet Coke = bootleg company. Get out now.
Diet Pepsi seriously has nothing on Diet Coke. I know there are a few people out there who like Diet Pepsi more, but you’re fooling yourself. You probably don’t like Diet Coke because you like the underdog (these are usually people who rooted for Jillian Lewis on Project Runway or Syesha on American Idol). Diet Coke is far superior to Diet Pepsi. Drinking Diet Pepsi is like drinking Diet Rite. It’s just cheap and tasteless.
Diet Coke is the perfect drink for any occasion. Whether it be in the morning after a long night of drinking (total cure for a hangover) or during a movie at the Arclight (omg, Diet Coke from a fountain is THE greatest thing in the entire world) or at a bar while you’re the DD (usually bartenders take pity on you and give it to you for free), Diet Coke is the absolute best. I know that no matter how hard my day is, there’s always going to be a cold Diet Coke waiting for me in the fridge to make me feel better. I get my fix from Diet Coke. And hey, it’s cheaper than crack.
WHERE: "No shit, you guys got Coke here?" "Well yeah, this is America."
COST: Free at work or $1 for a can
WHERE: The up-and-coming but not slummy neighborhoods of Los Angeles.
COST: $750 per roommate for a two bedroom, 1 bath apartment in the Fairfax district.
Hollywood Assistants like time off. The entertainment industry is (on the whole) mercifully liberal with the amount of time off it grants. We get the standard two weeks of paid vacation time a year. True, rare is the assistant who is taking two weeks off to vacation in
On top of that, most of us get two weeks off at the holidays. All of the agencies shut their doors from a couple of days before Christmas to a few days after New Years. And the networks and studios cut down to skeleton staffs and fewer hours. So the odds are in your favor that you’ll have a nice chunk of time to spend with your family… or off on an isolated island somewhere in the South Pacific. Whatever you prefer. But buy your tickets now, because airfare will only get more expensive.
Then you throw in your national holidays and, since this is LA, your Jewish holidays and it works out to probably a good 6 weeks off per year. That ain’t too shabby in the grand scheme of things. But we’re greedy - all of us - assistants and execs alike. We need more time off. We want more time on our long weekends to take earlier flights to the East Coast or try to beat the weekend traffic to
So if you’re lucky enough to leave the office early on a Friday afternoon because you have summer hours, make a special Happy Hour toast to your call-rolling comrades who are still stuck in the office. And save them a seat at the bar so they, too, can enjoy a half-priced margarita when they slide into the bar two minutes before the drink specials end. (The boss was being especially nice today.) Because for every assistant enjoying a half day, there are 5 more who are still shackled to their desks at . And we’ve all been there.
WHERE: Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, San Francisco, or anywhere that's not your office.
COST: Whatever your salary breaks down to per day. But you don't have to work to earn it. Score!
Friday, May 23, 2008
There are stakes in sending out a goodbye email, especially when you’re working at a huge company where it seems like a new assistant leaves every day. Do you go for humor? Irony? Do you play it straight? Mock your coworkers? Defer to Youtube? Attach a jpeg? This is your legacy; you have to make it count.
I remember my days long ago at an unnamed agency. I was a recent Los Angeles transplant, wide eyed and green, trying to figure out the scene. I sat next to the assistant I was replacing (let’s just call her Jane), watching her in her final few minutes on the desk as she planned her goodbye. She was no fuss, no fanfare, and pure genius:
She hit send, grabbed her bag, wished me the best of luck, and walked out the door. Within minutes, her (now my) inbox was flooded with replies, congratulating her making it out alive, and on the quirky brevity of her email. It was there, in my beginning moments at my new job, that I realized the importance of the ending.
Over the course of my year at the agency, I came across a million different types of kiss-offs: yearbook entries (J – remember the morning trips to Coffee Bean? K –I’ll miss our cig breaks in the back alley!), heartfelt missives (I never knew my coworkers would become my family), even a five page film noir screenplay. And, in time, I would read goodbye emails from colleagues at other companies as my network grew. Some were were obnoxious (the nameless assistant boasting about an expense account and an iPhone at his new gig), some were infamous, but the common thread was always: don’t you forget about me.
And how could we forget each other? In my short time in Hollywood, I’ve realized this town is small. And I mean, small. Peripheral friends become future cubemates. Work nemeses follow us from job to job. The guy you met that night at St. Nick’s ultimately becomes the roommate of the kid who works for your boss’ lawyer. There was one particular former coworker whose departure from our hallway was celebrated instead of mourned. When an email went out with forwarding info, the agent next to me demanded his assistant update his contacts. We eyed each other, shocked: WTF? And then the agent taught us a very important lesson: in Hollywood, you just never know. There is no goodbye. Unless you leave the industry entirely. Because then no one cares about you, anyway.
Cost: Hours you were supposed to spend "working"
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Swingers is awesome. It’s as if you took an old ‘60’s diner and dyed its hair black, dressed it in a vest and made it listen to The Hold Steady. Swingers is a hipster diner, if that makes any sense. But like Malo, it’s totally accepting to all us non-hipsters. It’s cheap and delicious. Each and every time when I get the bill there I am amazed by just how inexpensive this place is. If you spend more than $14 you definitely ordered too much or got something like the steak and eggs (and really, who gets steak at a hipster diner?).
I have an unhealthy obsession with grilled cheese. I used to spend sleepless nights in bed worrying about what age was too old to keep ordering grilled cheeses in restaurants. I thought I was going to have to be weaned off grilled cheese like a kid with their bottle. Luckily, Swingers makes it totally cool for anyone of any age to order grilled cheese. They even have their own “adult” grilled cheese: the stuffed grilled cheese. It’s heavenly and not your typical GC. The stuffed grilled cheese consists of two slices of sourdough bread, cheddar cheese, grilled onions, a tomato and omg, avocado. It’s to die for. I’ve brought friends from out of town here just to get this. They’ve never been the same. They often call me and ask me if shipping a SGC to them would be sanitary and if I thought it would arrive safely. My friends have even tried to replicate it at home in their own kitchens. It’s seriously just that good.
Swingers is also amazing because it's open until 4am. Nothing beats Swingers after a long night of drinking (probably at St. Nick's). Onion rings, a tuna melt, seriously yum. It's also a great place to run into peripheral friends and maybe even meet some new ones. Nothing says bonding like drinking a hardcore soy shake (with peanut butter) and eating a turkey burger at 3 o'clock in the morning. And that's why I'd take this Swingers over sex with multiple partners any day (well, maybe).
WHERE: 8020 Beverly Blvd, LA, CA 90048 AND for our Westside friends 802 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401
COST: $6 for a burger. Seriously.
Hollywood Assistants like The Happy Ending. I’m taking one for the team today, dear readers, because I’m not really a big fan of Happy Ending. In fact, I loathe and abhor going there. I’ve been know to utter the words “I’d rather stab a fork in my eye than go to Happy Ending tonight.” However, recently it has come to our attention that sometimes the things we write about aren’t necessarily things only Hollywood Assistants like. One friend of ours said we could alternately title this blog “Stuff Gay Men Like”. Another friend, who lives the mirror image of my life working on the Hill in DC, suggested that we re-title it “Stuff Young, Poor, Urban Professionals Like”. So today I’m bringing you something that is singularly Hollywood, and (as far as I can tell) mostly frequented by Assistants. So in the interest of maintaining our positive vibe, I will try to limit myself to only speaking on the highlights of this place.
Happy Ending is a bar located in a somewhat iffy stretch of Sunset. It’s way far east from the glamorous (?) places on the Strip. And it’s far west of the chill places in Los Feliz/Silverlake. Its closest neighbor is The Woods on La Brea, of which I am a huge fan (and not only because it smells of cedar. But more on that later). Happy Ending’s general atmosphere is that of a TGI Friday’s mixed with a party at the dirtiest Frat in college. On the weekends there’s a DJ spinning all the tunes they played at your high school prom. There’s a giant wheel of fortune that dictates what the drink specials for the hour will be, as well as a game in the back where you can try to capture a live lobster. Kitschy, yes, but kind of fun. It’s dive-y, but not chill dive-y in the vein of St. Nick’s. It’s more cheesy dive-y. It’s kind of the nightlife equivalent of going to Chili’s for dinner. There’s nothing especially original about it, but there’s something familiar that keeps drawing you back time and time again.
Probably the best part of Happy Ending is that they’ve jumped on the fishbowl-as-drinking-apparatus bandwagon. You and your friends can share fruity, neon colored cocktails straight out of a large beach pail. In my experience, these things tend to be lethal and you will be drunk in 10 minutes. Also be sure to check your friends for any infectious diseases before dipping your straw in the communal glass. Because contrary to popular belief, alcohol won’t kill those strep throat germs that have been breeding inside your drinking buddy’s body.
Happy Ending also has Dirty Photo Hunt, probably one of my favorite bar activities and one of the best ways to kill time when your friend refuses to leave because she's chatting with the cute dude from MP Lit. Last time I checked, my friends and I held the high score. And they have valet right out front that’s only like $5! Everyone likes easy parking, and in this part of town $5 valet is a steal.
Okay, so maybe really Happy Ending isn’t that awful. It’s a good place to hold a birthday party because there will never be a line, your guy friends will have no problem getting in, and there are always plenty of tables for you to grab and make the home base for your celebration. Kind of like when you used to have your birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese and they decorated a booth that was just for you! How much more special can you get?
WHERE: 7038 W Sunset Blvd., Hollywood
COST: $22 for a The Full Service fishbowl (Vodka, gin, rum, tequila, black raspberry liqueur, orange, pineapple, and cranberry juice topped with Bacardi 151)
Friday, May 16, 2008
Now, we’re not saying that Christmas gifts are limited only to assistants of agents/managers/lawyers/publicists. It’s not unheard of that development or producer’s assistants will get a gift here or there to thank them for their hard work. Once upon a time, nearly every assistant in town could count on at least one or two gifts from the big agencies. (Awesome: iTunes gift cards. Not awesome: mini digital camera that broke after 10 minutes.) Or there are always crew gifts if you’re working on something that’s currently in production. Even if you’re not crazy about that bomber jacket with your show’s name embroidered on your back, one of your family members back home will probably love it. And that’s one less present that you have to buy!
But when you have clients, there’s a whole world of opportunity that opens. You spend your days wondering whether the mail cart is going to stop at your desk and if that big basket with a bow on it is intended for you. Most likely, its not, but hey – there’s always hope. Usually the bosses get the big boxes and baskets – assorted fruits and cheeses from Larchmont Wine and Cheese, frames and miscellaneous glass sculptures from Tiffany’s, coffee table books from Taschen. Assistant gifts tend to be of the flat variety. Most disappointing is when you get an envelope that feels thick and open it up only to see the dreaded words, “A donation has been made in your name to…” Okay, I might be going to hell, but I think it’s impossible not to feel let down by a charity donation. You feel a thick envelope and think you’re getting a nice wad of cash and instead you come to find that Tree People will be planting in your name all year long.
But you get redeemed, because the next envelope contains a check or, even better, a gift certificate. Gift certificates are awesome because they grant you the freedom to make reckless purchases on someone else’s dime. At this point in my life, I would never spend $100 for a massage at Burke Williams. But thanks to Christmases past, I now can – twice!
So while you’re slogging through these long summer months and dying of boredom while all the execs are off on their summer vacays, remember the payoff you’ll get in December. Because unless the SAG strike happens and everyone is forced to tighten their belts yet again, I’m thinking it’s going to be a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah for us all.
WHERE: Cubicle inboxes all over town
COST: What do you care? (Unless you plan to pawn your gifts for cash.)
Nothing gets me more energized than when I see an e-mail in my inbox addressed to a group of people. I know this can only lead to one thing: Reply All. Whether it be “Who Wants to See the Sex and the City Movie on Opening Night?” with everyone on the chain Replying All with an “Obviously! I’m so Carrie!” Or the e-mail with the subject “Dinner Party!!” and everyone Replies All with an “I’ll bring the pasta” or an “I can’t cook! Count me in for lots of wine!” I know the fun will last for hours. Even though at that moment I’m Gchatting and IMing with probably everyone on that chain, I cannot wait to see what they have to say. It’s not only amusing but it’s also time consuming. Even if it’s just a “Let’s all go to Barney’s to watch the Lakers game on Saturday,” I can pontificate like no other. I’m a woman of opinions on e-mail chains and like Evites, it’s always nice to have your voice heard.
Sure, it sucks if the day your friends decide to start an e-mail chain is the day your boss is sending out a spec to all the studios or it’s the day you have to track down some obscure Norweigan film for your boss who is meeting with the director of said Norweigan film in three hours. That truly sucks because the last thing you want is your inbox being flooded with email upon email with the subject line of: “Where Should We Get Crunked Tonight?” Though it is fun to be able to come back to it when the chaos has ended and see how ridiculous all your friends are. Who knew there could be 75 exchanges about whether or not to see Indiana Jones at the Grove or at the Arclight?
The worst is dead silence. Occasionally a friend will send out an e-mail and it’s just cricket, cricket. That’s when you know none of your friends are into what you just sent. It’s the e-mail equivalent of a “no, thank you.” No one ever mentions it again and it’s like it never even happened. But really, don’t take offense that none of your friends want to see Cabaret on the big screen or are interested in going to a street fair in Pasadena. They probably just want to see the Sex and the City movie on opening night and drink pitchers at Barney’s.
WHERE: Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL
COST: Your valuable(?) time
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I cannot wait for the day to come when the check arrives and I slide my AmEx across the table and say, “I got this one.” But until that day comes, my friends and I will be splitting the check, or rather dividing it. This is no easy task, obviously. In this day and age carrying around cash is like writing a letter by hand or calling someone from a landline. It's straight up outdated. Debit cards and credit cards are just much easier to use. Besides, Hollywood assistants like debt (but that’s for a whole different entry). So when that bill comes we take out our Blackberries and start using the calculator to figure out what each of us owe (this sometimes prove to be a difficult challenge after a few mojitos). Of course, splitting the check evenly would just be too simple and painless. Plus there’s always that one fellow diner who only ordered an appetizer and a water and thus shouldn’t have to pay the same as someone (like me) who ordered say the sweet potato fries, filet mignon, and three glasses of Chablis. Once we figure out who owes what we ask the most organized friend at the table for a pen (because really, who else carries around a pen besides someone extremely responsible?). We then write our names on the back with the amount we each need to pay. I always suggest putting last names down because I’ve learned waiters aren’t very good with nicknames. They’ll often come back to the table and say something like, “so wait, Jen is actually Jennifer, right?” I’m sure they can mess up last names too but at least it’s not for lack of trying.
Dividing a bill can be quite a headache. It makes me yearn for the time when we’re all rich enough (or have expense accounts) to just offer up to pay for the whole dinner. And luckily, I’m an optimist and I know that time will one day come. But for now we’re obliged to do the math and divide the check. But really it’s okay. It’s just the price you pay for going out to a good dinner with even better friends and I for one think it’s most definitely worth it.
WHERE: Any of the fine dining establishments in LA (go to http://www.yelp.com to find a place that meets your needs)
COST: Depends on whether you're the overpaying friend or the cheap friend
But sometimes, your urban family is busy. Or maybe you’re looking to expand your horizons a bit and bring some new blood into that group of people going with you to El Guapo on Friday night. And that’s where your peripheral friends come in. Peripheral friends are people you see socially, who you think are fun, but who you don’t know especially well. They’re entertaining and they usually put on a good show. They’re friends of friends, or friends of friends of friends. And sometimes you honestly can’t remember how you know them. There’s a level of mystery inherent in the peripheral friend. Usually you know their name, where they went to school, and where they work… but beyond that, it gets a little foggy.
Peripheral friends are the non-sexual equivalent to friends with benefits. There’s no commitment, so if you don’t see them for a few months no one gets their feelings hurt. You don’t need to call them to check up on them during the week. In fact, calling is frowned upon. Even IM’s are usually frowned upon in most peripheral friendships. However, an text on a Friday night that says “Where R U? Want to come hang?” is always welcome.
Like most relationships, peripheral friendships often have a life cycle. Sometimes you’ll just stop hearing from your peripheral friend, and you’ve got to learn to be okay with that. Usually it’s not anything personal. They’ve probably just moved onto greener pastures. Or dropped their cell phone in the toilet at Three of Clubs and lost your number. Resist the urge to go all Fatal Attraction on them. Because in a town this small, word of your “crazy” reputation will spread faster than an outbreak of herpes on ROCK OF LOVE.
WHERE: Usually living at least 4 miles from you. Because if they lived in a convenient location, you’d be full-fledged friends.
COST: $4.99/month additional on your cell phone bill for text messages
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Ikea is cheap. Where else can you get a sofa for less than $400? Or a bed for less than $150? And the stuff is actually cute. Sure, it might be hard to put together and if you do a bad job assembling it all your furniture might not have a very long life. But who cares? The place is a Mecca for us Hollywood Assistants in search of cheap and easy furniture to decorate our rentals in the Fairfax district, which let's face it aren't that nice to begin with.
Putting Ikea stuff together is a bitch. One minor slip in the directions and you’re screwed. I once watched an episode of the Amazing Race where the detour was either count over 700 tiny stuffed animals or put together an Ikea dresser. For me, counting over 700 tiny stuffed animals would definitely lead me to a million dollars quicker. But that’s not to say putting Ikea stuff together is impossible. What you need is a lot of space to lay everything out, a positive attitude and maybe a Xanax. Assembling the parts of a piece of Ikea furniture is like a mind game. Sometimes it will get the best of you and you’ll decide it’s easier to just throw the whole thing away (which I’ve definitely been guilty of). Though once you do put it all together you’ll not only have won the game but you’ll also have a totally cute coffee table to put tons of scripts, magazines, junk mail, Lean Cuisines and your feet on.
Sure, all of us Hollywood Assistants might have the exact same media cabinets in our living rooms or our book stands are wobbly or our dresser drawers only open half way, but who really cares? That’s what this time in our life is all about: cheap furniture, Toyota Corollas and frozen yogurt for dinner. One day we’ll move on up and be able to afford the good stuff. But for now, we’ll spend our money on the important things: alcohol.
WHERE: 600 N. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank CA 91502 or http://www.ikea.com
COST: Cheap as hell
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
So that’s where alcohol comes in… and lots of it. I love house parties. I get excited at even just the mention of a keg. It takes me back to the happier, responsibility-free days of college. I’ve made probably 30 times more meaningful connections at house parties than I ever have at any industry-sanctioned event. You mix a captive audience with booze and the outcome is guaranteed to be good. House parties rock for a multitude of reasons:
1) They’re usually cheaper than going out to a bar. You need to play nice and bring at least a bottle of something as an offering to your host. But considering it costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $8 to get a mixed drink at an LA bar these days, that $19.99 handle of Smirnoff (on special at Ralph’s) is a huge bargain.
2) Beer pong. If you are good, this gives you an occasion to take the spotlight for a little while. Especially if you’re honing your skills for the Assistant Beer Pong Tourney. If you are terrible (ahem… like me), you should just stay away. Unless you are a masochist and enjoy being mercilessly mocked.
3) Flip cup. This is a game that’s much more my speed. There’s really no skill involved. And it gives mucho opportunity for team bonding. The connections made at the flip cup table are priceless. It’s always fun to get an email from that assistant you work closely with on Monday morning that says “TEAM STAMOS 4-ever! It was so good hanging out with you on Sat. You’re a flip cup machine!” Makes you feel important and that they now realize you are a human (and not a robot).
4) LA bars close at . Parties can go on indefinitely… or until the cops show up and give you a noise violation.
5) Usually bars tend to object if you pass out on the banquet and wake up there the next morning. Your best friend throwing the party, however, can’t really give you any crap for crashing at her house. Especially when she figures out that you’ll be around to help clean up in the morning.
6) Thanks to Evites, you have a general idea of what the crowd is going to be like. But there’s also the opportunity for special guest stars. Depending on word of mouth, the most random (and sometimes notable) people often show up at these things. Who knows? You might even get a Defamer Privacywatch sighting out of it.
7) If its your friend’s party, you can control the music. So if you’re in the mood, you can play DJ and force all the partygoers to listen to your special mix of Miley Cyrus and Journey all night long!
So don’t ignore that Evite to Fred from X’s office’s house on Friday night just because you don’t really know him that well. Grab your friends and go! Who knows? Whether it’s a party on N. Orange Grove, or at a friend’s Mom’s house in the Valley, or even at some sketchy Hollywood Hills house you heard about from a friend of a friend, odds are that you’ll have a good time.
WHERE: Random 4-plex in the Beverlygrove area, mansion in the Valley, or house in the Hills.
COST: $19.99 for a handle of Smirnoff (don’t forget to use your Ralph’s Club Card!)
Thursday, May 8, 2008
But like most assistants, I am a mad abbreviator. I’m not talking your standard AIM/Gchat “J/K – LOL!” exchange. That’s kid stuff. I constantly drop abbrevs into professional emails. I’d like to tell you it’s because I’m too busy to spell things out all the way, but then I would be lying. Mostly it’s because I’m too lazy. I’ll fire off a “Confirmed. Thnx” before you can count to three. Probably close to 75% of my emails start off with “FYI”. And this sentence is probably the first time I’ve spelled out through (vs. thru) in close to 2 years.
My passion for all things shortened, truncated, and condensed is probably rooted in being a member of the AOL generation. I was 11-years-old when I entered my first chat room for “TeEnZ ChAtTiNg!!!!!” and learned how to tell people that their clever quip about Brian from the Backstreet Boys made me roll on the floor laughing my ass off. And while it’s convenient and probably saves a fraction of a second each time I use an abbreviated form of a word, I can’t help but feeling that it’s ultimately contributing to a decrease in my intelligence.
It was a sad, sad day when my AOL/Texting speak made the leap from the digital screen and into the office, and one from which I will probably never recover. My coworker and I now spend most of our days screaming “O. M. G.” at each other over the latest Speidi photos, and talking about how we’re “Totes sure that call is confirmed.”
So I’m going to give you all a piece of advice that I should probably take myself: take the time to spell, speak, and type out the whole word. Save the abbreviations for that drunken text you send to your bootie call on Friday night (the one you think is a good idea at the time… but we all know it’s not). Because one day you will mistakenly say “OMG! That call went totes well! IDK how you do it!” to your boss. And once you’re branded the
WHERE: Gchat, AIM, email, text messages, the office, your life
COST: Your intelligence and vocabulary
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Tracking boards make even the biggest slackers among us appear smart, well connected, and resourceful - which, in turn, brings us one step closer to the elusive thing we're all chasing: a promotion. Of course, if you'd rather jump ship from the chains weighing you down in your current cube, tracking boards are also supremely useful in helping you find the latest UTA list, job opening, or even your replacement.
Like all good things, though, tracking boards can be flawed. When your daily to-do list rivals the Dead Sea Scroll, the last thing your inbox needs is a chain 45 e-mails long dissecting the intricacies of a Youtube video that showcases some British baby named Charlie with a propensity for biting fingers (or, for that matter, someone asking you about a pinewood specialist – how the f*ck do you know?).
Nor do you want to read about someone “graciously” giving up their front row tickets to that sold out concert at the Hollywood Bowl / dinner reservation at Mozza / VIP access to the premiere party in Westwood. We get it – you have connections, you have a social calendar. Good for you. We don’t need your leftovers. And, let’s be honest: we really don’t care about your “I’m getting laid” announcement thinly veiled as a search for “a great restaurant in
So herein lay the secret reason Hollywood assistants like tracking boards - whether it be witty banter, an inside joke, or a self-referential anecdote, we love to give our proverbial two cents, we love to self-promote, and, above all, we love to talk about ourselves. Why else do we have a blog?
COST: Your soul.
**This post brought to you by a politically-minded Guest Contributor**
Hollywood Assistants like Barack Obama. Why? Well, for one, we’re all young, which means we care about the future, which means that he’s really our only option in the upcoming election. Beyond that exceedingly obvious reason, he also happens to appeal to the Hollywood Assistant by fulfilling several conditions that we look for in our everyday work lives.
First of all, he’s a liberal like we are. You don’t spend $150,000 for college and then decide to work in an industry that openly peddles sex and violence to the public unless you’re a liberal. Now, if you’re a conservative, you’d secretly indulge in the sex and violence and work in an even further depraved industry—politics. So with that in mind, Barack Obama gives us comfort to know that even though he’s in politics, which means he’s probably worse than we think, he poses as a hardcore liberal and will at the very least ensure that our girlfriends can CHOOSE to have an abortion whenever they feel like. A comforting thought, indeed.
Secondly, Barack Obama isn’t white. The majority of people in this industry are white. That’s just a fact. I’m sorry that Hollywood doesn’t participate in Affirmative Action (well, some writing programs do, but those don’t count, since they’re just a way to get around being an assistant), but it’s hard to ignore the fact that the diversity we so desperately seek can really only be found in the form of the Tyler Perry empire. We kinda feel bad that we work in such a white-washed world, so the best way we can prove how much we like diversity is by supporting the black…actually, the African-American presidential candidate. And just to clarify, when I say diversity, I mean RACE, not gender. There’s no need for us to want a crazy and scary female in the White House when there are plenty of them to spare in
Another thing that we like about Barack Obama is that he tries really hard not to talk shit. I mean, it’s fine to call other people out when it’s appropriate. Hell, this blog seems to thrive in doing so. But just like us, when Obama calls out Hillary, he does it because he knows she deserves it. Hillary, on the other, talks mad shit about Obama. All the time. Non-stop. It’s like she’s the too-cool-for-school intern who doesn’t realize the only reason she’s around in the first place is because her boyfriend used to work at the company for a while and put in a good word for her. Obama has managed to class up the entire election process by staying calm and that’s just something we don’t see among the flying coffee mugs and the echoes of expletives being launched in our daily routines.
Lastly, we like Barack Obama because his key philosophies match those of every Hollywood Assistant. Whether it’s our dream to work in show business, our passion to create art or even the desire to make a shitload of money, we’re all in the same boat—we can only hope to achieve that seemingly unattainable goal. The life of a Hollywood Assistant isn’t like that of the characters on Entourage (unless you count Lloyd, but even he seems to be having a better time doing what we do)…just look at this blog, our pleasures are simple and, for the most part, very basic. So when we take a look at who might be the next President, we’re not deciding between keeping our tax breaks intact or making sure that every person in America has health insurance—no, we look for some one who reinforces the one thing we feel slipping away while we sit at our desks, rolling calls: Hope. That’s why Hollywood Assistants like Barack Obama. He makes us believe that you can go from being a “nobody” to making it big. He shows us that despite lacking the experience that others have, you can make things change for the better to succeed. And in the end, he makes us feel comfortable by having us chant the same words we mindlessly use to respond to our bosses when they ask us if it’s possible to get them a four-person reservation at Osteria Mozza that night at : “Yes We Can.”
COST: $15 minimum donation at http://www.barackobama.com
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: what LA lacks in culture and architecture it makes up for in scenery. Only in Los Angeles, can you have 7/11 upon 7/11, gas station upon gas station and then tucked in the hills, a big, beautiful canyon to hike in. It’s truly surreal.
Runyon Canyon is a lot like Hollywood. On your first visit you’re in for a rude awakening. I always knew I was out of shape but I didn’t realize just how out of shape I was until I went to Runyon for the first time. And unfortunately for me, the friends I was with thought it’d be best to go up the hard way: meaning up those ridiculously steep steps. Slugging up those steps I thought I was climbing to my death. It was truly hell. As little Pomeranians and Shitz tzus passed me, I truly wanted to turn around and never look back up. But then I realized that if those tiny teacup dogs with legs shorter than one of my fingers could do it then so could I. And I did. Out of breath, flushed, and chugging my water the whole time, but still.
I’ll never go up those steep steps again. But going up the other way is totally cool and actually really good exercise. It’s not like walking on the treadmill with an inclination of 10. It’s better. Not only do you get fresh air (what a concept!), but you also get to see some really ridiculous people (and dogs). From celebrities to crazies to iron men, Runyon is full of a motley group of Los Angelenos. It’s kind of like walking down 3rd Street except you’re on a huge slant overlooking the beautiful landscape of our beloved city (and there’s no possible chance you’ll run into Joan’s for a red velvet cupcake though you should totally stop by there after because seriously you just had a really hard workout and totally deserve it).
WHERE: 200 N. Fuller Ave, LA, CA 90046 (though there are several entrances to the park)
COST: OMG! Free.
But there are two places that LA-ers really like to put their money: cars and real estate. Since admittedly I know nothing about real estate beyond what I’ve learned on Real Estalker, I’ll leave that subject to a later date. The sad fact is that the biggest compliment someone can give you in LA is not “Wow, you’re really talented” or “You have excellent taste in material”. It’s “I really, really love your car.”
Assistants want a just a smidgen of a taste of the good life that their bosses enjoy. So at the first opportunity, many trade in (and trade up?) their 1998 Honda Civic for a 1998 BMW 3 series or something like it. Sure, it’s A/C always seems to go out while driving along
But this baby’s got a leather interior and an important symbol on the hood that makes all the valets in town sit up and take notice. Or at least not laugh their asses off at you. You never want to be that guy who pulls up to the valet stand at
WHERE: Carmax, 8611 La Cienega (adjacent to LAX)
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Hollywood Assistants love Yogo Tango. Every city, it seems, has its “thing”. There’s always that one item that you get irrevocably used to and you become so spoiled that when you’re away from home you miss the stupid little things. Growing up, I formed an unhealthy attachment with these:
I have begged and pleaded with anyone I know who travels to the South to overnight me some Waffle House hash browns. No one has come through yet. I have journeyed to far-off concourses in airports just to grab a chicken sandwich during a layover. And true story, I bullied a friend who had a lay over in the ATL airport into getting a Diet Coke from Chik-fil-a. They have the best. tasting. Diet. Coke. EVER. I can’t explain it. It’s like it’s laced with crack.
And of course, being that this is LA, our known-for food has to be trendy and “healthy”. And thus the obsession with fro-yo.
I feel like the whole “natural” frozen yogurt trend peaked about 18 months ago when people would line up around the block for Pinkberry in
First, Yogotango is different from its granddaddy Pinkberry in that it offers healthy selection of tart yogurt flavors beyond the standard original and green tea. Personally I like the peach and the vanilla. The more adventurous among us might develop a taste for the tomato (frankly, I’ll take my tomato soup without a side of cold tartness, thank you very much). But the thing that sets Yogotango apart from most of its counterparts is that you get to add your toppings yourself at a fun little toppings bar. Fruit, chocolate, nuts, the works. You can keep adding toppings until they start falling off your swirl and into the wrong compartment, as I usually do. I make a huge mess. I’m sure the cashiers love me there. And they have mochi!! Mochi is just the best. I’m big on anything gummy. Usually by the time I get up to the register I have an $8 yogurt that weighs in at somewhere around 4 lbs. Yeah, I overdo it sometimes.
Bonus points also for the shop being located in the same strip mall as an Autozone. If you ever find yourself with a headlight out, then you have the perfect excuse to grab some creamy goodness while a nice Autozone employee teaches you how to pop your hood and then proceeds to just replace the whole headlight for you. Because you’re a girl and never learned anything about cars, even though you realize that is totally anti-feminist and you should just buy Auto Maintence for Dummies so you don’t look like a moron when your tires need air or whatever. Not that this has ever happened to me or anything.
So thumbs up to Yogotango for being a user-friendly frozen yogurt store with a touch of originality. Even if your decor is a total rip off of Pinkberry.
WHERE: 1300 N. Highland Ave. (at Fountain), Hollywood
COST: $4-8, depending on how liberal you are with your toppings
Monday, May 5, 2008
So if, like me, you often have an "oh shit" moment at least once a week when you realize that today or tomorrow is a major birthday/holiday/anniversary of your best friend's nose job and you've neglected to put a card in the mail, SomeECards.com is perfect for you.
SomeEcards combines two of my favorite things: snark and simplicity. Anything that I send out needs to have the appropriate amount of sarcasm and irony to match my overly sarcastic and ironic personality. Hallmark usually just doesn't do it for me. I mean, I'll admit that in certain situations I'll send out a straight-forward ecard. My grandmother LOVES those MushyGushy.com ecards where I paste her head and my head on cartoon bodies and they sing the Golden Girls theme song. She writes back adorable responses where she tells me, "No, THANK YOU for being a friend! XO, Nana". But Nana's not hip and her sense of humor was cultivated sometime in the
SomeEcards has a card for every occasion. This year on her birthday, I sent my mom the card that says "Today’s the Anniversary of You Being Expelled from Your Mother’s Uterus". See, it's funny because I was expelled from HER uterus. It works on so many levels!
I think my siblings especially love it when I send them baby themed cards that express my true feelings towards my nieces and nephews. It’s not that I don’t love them, because I do very much. But they live on the other side of the country, airfare is so expensive, and newborns are boring. They don’t do anything! I like to visit my siblings’ progeny after they’ve learned a couple tricks. Who wants to go to a circus where the elephant just stands in the center ring? No one! You go because you know at some point that elephant is going to balance on one leg on top of a giant ball. When my sister starts to guilt me about coming to see her new baby, I fire off this card:
If that one doesn’t stop the nagging, I have to take it to the next level and send her this one:
Usually that gets her to be quiet for a few weeks. I don’t even have to write text to accompany it. The ecard is straight to the point and delivers my message for me.
I’m eagerly awaiting the day that some fine, upstanding gentleman saves us both a few weeks/months/years of heartache and sends me this one:
So next time you realize that today has some significance to someone somewhat important in your life, send them a little love note from SomeEcards.com. If they know you well enough, they’ll be able to grasp the sentiment beneath the snark.
In jobs where we mostly answer phones, schedule meetings and do whatever our boss asks of us, we hardly ever have the opportunity to be innovative. Thank God for Evites. These are a time for our creative juices to really come out and be seen. In that little box we could say anything really: “Can’t wait!” or “Going to see Feist at the Greek but will try to come after!” or “Wish I could but the moms in town. Have a drink on me!” Of course, those are valid responses and all, but they’re pretty damn yawn. Come on, people, let’s get original. I want humor, I want depth. This is your time to shine! Are you going to go with the norm or are you going with the inventive and quirky response that will make you the hit of a party that hasn’t even started yet?!
This Hollywood Assistant doesn’t just like Evites. She LOVES Evites. She loves them so much that if Evites were a boy she so would have slept with him on the first date. In fact, she treats Evites like boys she crushes: she stalks them. This entails lots of refreshing the website to see who is the newest RSVPer. And honestly, she judges responses. Sometimes she even finds someone’s response so witty and cute that she wonders who exactly this mysterious and amusing fellow guest might be. Maybe her future husband will be at her cubicle mate’s goodbye drinks! A girl can dream, can’t she? Well, in the meantime you’ll find this Hollywood Assistant refreshing and hoping, thinking and praying for a clever reply to keep her day entertaining.
And don’t even get me started on those who only reply with their name. I hate you. A lot.
WHERE: The World Wide Web
Thursday, May 1, 2008
The first thing you’ll notice upon entering this charming place on
After you settle into a cozy booth by the front window, take the time to survey the crowd. Note how everyone is just slightly older and more affluent than you are. It’s okay – this is a place that inspires aspirations. Think of it as St. Nick’s plus five years and a couple of tax brackets. There are usually fun people hanging out here, so it's a good place to bring out-of-towners who are looking for a celebrity sighting. One time we saw the Peeing Politician from Sex & the City, who is now on Mad Men (a.k.a my favorite show). Happily he didn’t pee on anyone, so everybody won.
I’m a big fan of the food here. If I were ever on Death Row, I would definitely consider ordering a Village Idiot burger as my final meal. I know this probably sounds weird, but the beef melts in your mouth. It is the softest piece of meat you will ever chew. (That's what she said.) Pair it with a glass of green apple cider and a side of brussel sprouts (delicious, not gross, I swear) and I’m in heaven.
Village Idiot is conducive to some heavy drinking, but you never come out of it feeling dirty like you would at some other places. One time we commandeered a booth for four hours and played Color War – white wine vs. red wine. Four bottles later, we were a little worse for the wear. Yeah, I probably could’ve put that $40 towards a more useful cause, such as paying down my credit card debt. But would I have spent my Friday night getting blotto on good wine under the watchful eye of Adrien Grenier’s hot older brother? I think not. I live for the experience man. And so should you. So embrace the (slightly) nicer side of LA and head over to the VI. Tell them I sent you. And ask the owner if he still has my number… because he never called. He must’ve lost it.WHERE: 7383 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles 90046
COST: About $30 for burger and a couple of beers