As a Los Angeles resident for over 13 years now, I have been accustomed to the two alternate worlds of LA: Beverly Hills, and everywhere else. Recently I made a few trips of longer duration to this hub of stars, and while browsing the shops, I noticed two things. First, the prices, and what they were selling. When it comes to Beverly Hills, the myth is definitely true — everything is overpriced. But, being the teen I am, shopping is not exactly my expertise, so I have never before hit up any of the top notch appointment-only stores in the Hills. But when I first entered these stores and took a look at the price tags, I was blown away. As a southern Californian traveler, I have been accustomed some pretty outrageous stuff around here, but nothing like what was going on over in the BH. Highlights of the store that I browsed while I was wandering included $4,000 Italian motorbike jackets, $40,000 dresses, and my favorite — a $450 cotton undershirt. Now I do understand that this clothing they are selling is the real deal, high quality fabrics, comfortable feel, ect. — but the 450 buck undershirt really struck me as something I may have 10 of in my dresser that was bought for under 5 dollars or less at a popular Polo in a Santa Monica shopping mall. So I made two conclusions: people who buy this stuff are either the filthy rich Los Angeles .com billionaires who own the multiple Ferraris and Gallardos outside, or regular income people who just want to look filthy rich. The answer…was neither. 

The second thing I noticed was who was shopping at these stores. Not only did I not see one resident of Southern California in the stores besides the employees, but everyone in the store wasn’t even from the West — mostly not even America. And at that moment the awful truth struck me — these people (who were actually buying this stuff relentlessly) had fallen under the misconception that makes places like Vegas so famous. If you are looking at a stereotype movie shown about Los Angeles, it is almost guaranteed to show the juiciest parts of LA — the expensive shops that the not even the actors in real life would shop at. My point? To foreigners, Los Angeles is Beverly Hills, and it would be like going to Vegas and not visiting a casino to not feed off of the Hills. In fact, for the average tourist I saw there (a Japanese couple and their two sons), it would be virtually impossible to see the real essence of the great city of Los Angeles without a local to show you away from the luring lies of Beverly Hills, and into the real Los Angeles — the city. For example, when I visit South America in a few weeks, (as an American) I will most certainly be shown into the finest of hotels and dining, probably missing what is really what the whole city is about — digging deep into the rich history and life of the places I will be traveling to. This is the exact same feeling that couple from Japan probably was lured into when traveling to Los Angeles. 

I am not claiming that Beverly Hills is bad for the city, it is an important asset of Los Angeles’s culture. But I encourage all travelers who may be reading this to find someone local and stay away from the tour busses that only shuttle to the glamorous stops, but to really go into Los Angeles and learn — not necessarily the history of the city, but the culture and the town hubs that really show what LA is all about to me — the greatest city ever.

With today’s economy problems, many sports car enthusiasts have already given up their golden dream of once owning a 200+ Ferrari, rolling down Beverly Hills while blinded by cell phone camera flashes by awestruck, sidelined civilians that own beat-up Honda Civics. And now, they themselves have become part of the crowd, the daring ones maybe getting a hold of a Nissan 350Z or a low-end Mustang. But when they are standing on the sidewalk with their buddies, staring at a beautiful red Corvette cruising by, they would just laugh and imagine the driver’s face after filling up day after day. But little do they know that the driver of that supercar won’t be pulling in for gas anytime soon, for their 430 brake horsepower beast gets 27 to 30 miles per gallon on the highway. No joke. That’s why I’m calling the Corvette Z51 the ultimate car. There is no other car in the world today that has the satisfaction and looks of a supercar, the performance (ziltch to 60 in 4.25 seconds), outstanding efficiency, and above all – a price that won’t make you keel over. The Z51 packs a better punch as cars twice its price ($56,185 as tested). So why haven’t people taken the bait yet? I don’t know. With a car so good looking you’d swear its Italian, performance so good you’d swear it was Italian, and a price tag that is everything but Italian, you’ve got one thing for sure – I’m saving up for my 16th birthday already. 

Although you may call me biased because of my age, I find it both funny and frustrating that people who aren’t familiar to texting look at messages like they are written in Chinese. Even as a novice texter, people look over my shoulder whenever I am writing a message and gasp when I type something that’s not in English. There are even wikipedia articles and guide books written by middle aged men which attempt to explain the language, which are completely incorrect (I wonder why). The truth is (in my opinion), anyone over 23 should not even try to learn text, just because the only way to learn it is to talk to 13 year old gossip queens over 50 times a day, and unless you are a stalker, that’s pretty hard to do. But if you do try to learn it, I’m laying down some ground rules for anyone over 30. Number one: please don’t say any text lingo out loud in public (I’ve seen it done many times). It’s just really wrong and makes you look like you are either drunk or your very uneducated. And especially parents, if you say any text to your kids out loud, prepare to be ignored for a time ranging (by the number of text words you said, your tone of voice, and hand motions) from a week to a 5 months. I’m serious. Last rule: When your kid goes to the bathroom and you see his/her computer open, fight the urge to talk to your child’s online friends. I understand the parental need, but successfully executing this task is impossible when you try to imitate your child’s texting. Even if you are fluent in text, your child’s friend will at once know someone new is typing, because of the speed of your words, your language (there are words you don’t know and some you will use that your kid never uses), and last, there is usually a video chat window that is hidden behind other documents, so the friend can see you. This has happened many times to my friends, and trust me, they will always find sneaky ways to get back at the parents who are spying on them. My point here? Texting is a dog eat dog world, and if you aren’t accustomed to the tricks and trades, the hunter will become the hunted.

            As most may have guessed the most popular car with the candidates today is a hybrid, but its not a Prius (maybe they read my article). Its actually a Ford Escape hybrid, which is the car of Obama, Clinton and Christopher Dodd.

 But something I got a kick out of were the cars that Romney and McCain drive. They seemed to have taken the republican spirit and sacrifice MPG and global warming hecklers for the good stuff. Romney’s toy is a 1962 Ford GT Convertible Mustang with over 400 horses. But McCain may just have topped it with a 3.6 Liter Cadillac CTS V-6. Good stuff. Maybe he has his employees drive a fleet of Prius’s or something to make it up to America. 

The Worst Movie Ever

July 17, 2008

I have seen some pretty bad movies, and I’ve seen what the web thinks are the worst. But of what I’ve seen, the last two absolutely horrible movies standing are Plan 9 From Outer Space and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. When I saw Plan 9, it struck me as so bad, it was funny to watch it. The best part about a movie like that was the budget it was on. It seemed like Ed Wood was broke after his last stink up that went straight to dvd (erm…VCR or whatever they had in the 50’s). The best parts include the really cheesy walking dead man who looked like he ate too much, the plastic foam graveyard, but what stands out in my mind was the UFO’s they used. First of all, my friend could do a better job constructing a model like that for a science project blindfolded. But what really stood out in that scene was the faint and poorly removed Pontiac logo on the space ship, suddenly made me realize that Ed Wood, (being the genius he is) used his car’s hub cap! I replayed it over and over again, each time falling off the couch and onto my dog who eventually got up and slept somewhere else. What will always give me a lasting impression though, is the total effort put in the movie. The cast was trying so hard…but they fell just a bit too short. Just a bit. 

Now moving on to the other title contender, 2007’s Fantastic Four, Rise of the Silver Surfer. This movie somehow made 150 million on the box office while managing to get really bad reviews. Now what keeps amazing me about this movie is the amount of money they spent on it. They may have actually spent a million times more money than Ed Wood did, and they still made it pitiful. This plotless, hopeless sequel to a plotless, hopeless original was amassed with an array of horrible actors topped off with Jessica Alba, who just plain can’t act for a can of beans and was about (what else) but them saving the world from an evil Galactia. Don’t they always! But the true sign of this bad movie was the pain and agony suffered by watching every single minute of it. It was almost similar to getting braces put on — a slow painful, torturous death that got worse until the end, when you just sit there after the credits when everyone else has left, staring at the now turned off screen mesmerized by just how painful that really was. The difference between this movie and Plan 9 was that it just was so full of itself, over-paid, and plotless that you had to hate it. 

When I compare the two, the overwhelming favorite for me is Plan 9 because you could watch it 10 times in a row and still get a kick out of it while with Fantastic Four you really want to leave the theater for some fresh air after its finished showing. So when it comes to the worst movie that has ever graced (or tripped over) the silver screen, congratulations Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer, you can officially consider yourself pitiful in all ways imagineable. Oh, and thanks Ed Wood, you really made me laugh.

Celebrities are now facing the truth, and it isn’t pretty. Gossip has turned it up a notch, and now there is nowhere to hide. Big paparazzi agencies have patched up their main weakness — failing to be anywhere, anytime. Before, agencies would hire a small group of professional photographers and brief them of where the stars would be, but it was a double-edged sword. The pictures they got we’re high quality and high definition, and worthy of the front page of any magazine to hit the shelves. But their main weakness was their inability to be everywhere, and it cost them. For example, when they were taking pictures of one celebrity coming out of church, they were risking missing another, for example, getting arrested or something more newsworthy or, as the kids would say in more of an “OMG” demand. But this hole was covered recently, as some person in high places somewhere in a gossip agency had a genius idea: give disposable cameras to thousands of people in a big city, say, New York or Los Angeles, and have them scour the streets for celebrities, take a picture, and then hustle back to the office where they started and get a reward, ranging in cash by how good the picture was, and who it was taken of. One paparazzi boss is even giving rewards to the general public for snap happy cell phone pictures. Darryn Lyons, founder of Big Pictures, set up a mobile phone website that lets you upload cell phone pictures to his agency directly from your phone. That’s why you are now accustomed to seeing cover shots on gossip magazines that are obviously not professional, some even blurred or distorted. This new style has taken the stars by surprise, people who claim to be “devoted fans” now can whip out their Blackberry and get a picture of them which the next day may be on the cover of OK or US. But its not like the celebrities aren’t going down without a fight. Angelina Jolie made a valiant effort to escape the never ending US paparazzi attack force by making an escape to (where else) but Namibia (for those who aren’t geography buffs, its in Africa) to have her baby. She and husband Brad Pitt went to this remote country for the birth for a number of reasons, but a big one being they wanted to get rid of all paparazzi. During the period of the birth, all traces of gossip in Namibia were banished and the country made sure no Americans could enter the country that could be a paparazzi. And with the help of closing off an entire country, no press could cover the story. All the poor paparazzi agencies could find was one small leak from a Namibian nurse who gave the plain remarks “She is a healthy baby.” Her remarks were anonymous because she was not authorized to release any information. And in truth, no one was, not even Namibian officials said a word about the birth. Jolie’s counter-punch to the growing paparazzi in the US was a ray of hope to all celebrities, but as the War on Paparazzi continues, all a curious spectator can do is watch, and laugh. 


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