A thick fog of stereotypes surrounds the type of person who lives in Los Angeles. Vapid actresses, fake tans, fake boobs, wannabe screenwriters with nothing to say, pretentious film snobs who pontificate on how horrible every movie ever made is, wily executives with no regard for humanity. The entertainment industry, it seems, brings with it a set of very unsavory types.
Guess what? It's all lies. Last night I went out to dinner with 3 people: Rachel, who works for a production company while working towards starting her own; Peggy, who is an editor for film and TV, and Chris, who is a previs arist on major motion pictures (previsualization is the 3-D, computer-animated souped-up counterpart to storyboarding). Round this oh-so-Hollywood table out with me: I work as a programmer for a visual effects studio.
We ate at Cobras and Matadors, a lively little tapas place a few blocks from my apartment. Never was the conversation vapid, pretentious, or cold. In fact it was a pretty perfect (adjacent to) Hollywood night. The place is dimly lit, with a hilly landscape of used-up wine corks lining the walls, along with big black and white photos. Feeds my Mediterranean obsession quite nicely. They played a nice mix of mellow my-generation music -- just enough off mainstream to be hip, but not so edgy to endanger the cozy mood the place had going. Rach and I got there early and picked up a bottle of red wine (sweet, with a little spice -- like us!) from the wine shop next door (Cobras and Matadors doesn't have a wine license, but the shop-next-door, no-corkage system works just fine).
And then, we ate. And we drank. As we grazed through arugula salad, very-paprika-y chorizo patty mini-sandwiches on olive oil bread, amazing fried lentils that were crunchy, nutty, and intriguingly sweet (like us!), and several other tasty bits, the four of us discussed future projects, world travel, Chris and Peggy's pending move to NYC, family dynamics, and a lot more. Of course there was talk of incompetent line producers and screenplays to be written, but we also planned the many dinner parties we will surely have when they are back from New York -- hopefully this will actually happen so Peggy can initiate me into the world of home-made Lebanese food (!), and I can return the favor with Persian food. Towards the end of the night, Peggy made the sweet comment that tonight was just another example how that now that she is leaving Los Angeles, she is meeting people she really connects with here. Aww.
We finished off dinner with churros con chocolate (my deep visceral connection to this dessert is a story for another day), adding to the perfection, then lingered a bit to polish off bottle number 2 of wine.
The take-home lessons:
1: Hollywood is not as gross as you think. In fact, there is an abundance of intelligent, creative, warm, *quality* people in the entertainment industry (although I'm sure that the there is an abundance of the yuck factor as well).
2: Cobras and Matadors is awesome. 7615 W Beverly Blvd, between Stanley and Curson (just east of Fairfax). Definitely make a reservation though: (323) 932-6178