International Women's Day (a day too late)

Since it was International Women’s Day yesterday, here a Hollywood story about equality. Few weeks ago, new six episodes of X-Files premiered and caused a big stir. Not so much because of the fans and their genuine interest in seeing what agents Scully and Mulder have been up to in all this time, but more because of one of Hollywood’s two new favorite topics: women & Hollywood and race & Hollywood. Equal pay is all the rage for past years, becoming a huge issue after Patricia Arquette’s Oscar acceptance speech last year, with Jennifer Lawrence quickly jumping on the bandwagon.

The fact that women should be paid the same amount for the same job as men is undisputable. 

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Yoga Pants, the New Perfume

When I lived in Europe and read celebrity magazines (I’ve always been a sucker for celebrity magazines), I often wondered why famous people go out in public in their workout clothes. And get caught on camera. In Europe you don’t go outside of your home or gym in your workout clothes. Now that I’ve spent so much time in LA I finally have an answer: it’s not the people, it’s the city! I wrote a very fun article for the February issue of Gloria Glam about LA’s obsession with yoga pants. I was very honored to speak about this topic with Catherine Adair, acclaimed costume designer whose work on “Desperate Housewives” brought her an Emmy. Cate’s first reaction was: “Cars!” 

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Feeling Philosophical

Every time I hike on my favourite canyon, I see people running up the steep hill in hot Californian sun. And every time one of them passes by, I wonder how fit they must be to run up this hill, and feel a bit bad about myself being lazy. And in 95% of times, the moment I turn the corner, I find that same person walking and panting and drinking water. I just realized on my hike yesterday what an important philosophical lesson it is: Never ever envy people. Because you never know what their situation will be just around the next corner.

The Big City of Small Plates

Because Croats like their food – and lots of it – I wrote a story about L.A.’s trendy restaurants serving their food on small plates for the December issue of “Delicije.” Like all the stories (and that’s why I love doing this!) the story about small plates revealed some very interesting facts.

Because it is hard to motivate a person to eat two hamburgers instead of one, some 20 years ago, fast food chains invented “supersize” – a much bigger portion for a bit more money (but resulting in a lot more profit). This led to a portion size war: in last 20 years, the size of an average American portion has increased two to three (!) times. Combined with the sinking quality of ingredients, this had terrible effects on people’s health: it’s expected that by 2020 ¾ of Americans will be obese.

Partially to contrast this trend and partially to introduce a novelty, since the beginning of the millennium, fine restaurants started offering all their food on “small plates”. These are sized between an appetizer and a main dish, you order them all at once and are meant for sharing.

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Hollywood Stars With Brushes and Rubber Gloves

I’m having so much fun with my new (and absolutely fantastic) position as the Los Angeles (and Hollywood) correspondent for a big group of magazines which includes (among others) a high end fashion magazine (Gloria Glam), a gourmet magazine (Delicije), a celebrity magazine (Gloria) and another fashion magazine (Gloria In). A story I wrote for the  December issue of Gloria Glam took me inside of the world I would have otherwise never entered: the world of Hollywood’s celebrity hair colorists. When I started researching, I was stunned with the fact that there are people in this city who  pay $400 for hair color. But what I learned is that the star colorists won’t even start work for that amount. Largely depending on the services, their work goes for around $800 or more. Some of those colorists are such big stars that I had to go through their agents and PR people  if  to get an interview.

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"Titoland" in LA

I am excited to announce my first reading in Los Angeles: 13 February 2013 at 7

at Max Kade Institute, USC

2714 S. Hoover Street, Los Angeles, California 9

I will read from "Titoland" and Angela Thompson will read from "Blackout" (a story of her mother's escape from East Germany). After the reading, we will talk to Prof. Sarah Pratt about lives between communism and capitalism. Reception to follow the program.  Join us if you are in LA!

TitolandFlyer

 

 

(It's even more) Halloween in Beverly Hills (than usual)

Yes, Halloween is approaching, whole Los Angeles is full of spiders, cobwebs - and even more zombies and witches than normally. But today, at Kim Kardashian's CVS I found something unique. Check her out: tight red hooker dress, pink mani, long blond extensions, sagging silicones, NARS orgasm blush.

Ladies and gentleman: The Beverly Hills Witch

 

And my Oscar goes to: The Skin

I know it’s 2 days later, but the Oscar just won’t leave me alone.

Yes, there was the one great painful irony of the night: Billy Crystal noticing how refreshing it is in the midst of the global financial crisis to celebrate millionaires giving each other golden statues. Funny. Sad.

But there was another one that went unnoticed. And was even sadder. It was the Oscar for best documentary short. It went to “Saving Face”, a documentary about a plastic surgeon who is helping women who have been injured in acid attacks. It was extremely strange to see clips from the movie showing the suffering of Pakistani women whose faces – and lives – have been destroyed by men throwing acid at them. And then to see Kodak theatre filled with women who just returned from appointments with plastic surgeons in which they paid to have acid put on their faces. And do some (reconstructive?) surgery. For millions of dollars. To make them look younger. So they appeal to men.

No, I have  never seen skin like in LA. Tight, shiny, ageless, story-less, wrinkle-less. Skin that looks beyond young: Skin that looks artificial, plastic. Skin worth a fortune. Skin that went through quite a lot of pain to look that way. Skin that was exposed to acid and cut to pieces in order to attract. Isn’t that some kind of tyranny? Some kind of punishment?

And there it was. The Skin. Right there in that room: Meryl Streep with a forehead of a 18 years old, J.Lo. with a skin 15 years younger, Angie looking like…. something not human. All applauding to “Saving Face”.

Ouch.

L.A. Breasts

L.A. Magazine’s October issue is dedicated to L.A. Women. What a great idea! Maria Shriver on the cover, described as strong, smart, iconic. 2 pages about women who changed the game, 2 pages of a general story about women in L.A., an interview with Wallis Annenberg (a philanthropist), couple of pages about woman heroes…. But then: 4 pages devoted to breasts. Not kidding.

It made me wonder (yet again) why the hell out of all cities in the world, I landed in this city. I know it’s supposed to be cool, ironic and funny. Somehow it isn’t.

And then I imagined a November issue of New York Magazine devoted to N.Y. men. And a 4 pages article about their penises. Am sure they’d have much more amazing stories to tell.

Star spotting

I really wonder if I’m the right person for this town. I just received a newsletter from MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) where I’m a member (thanks to my friend’s lovely mom, who couldn’t have given me a better “Welcome to LA” present). As a member, I was invited to the opening of their latest exhibition of Street Art (which I’m a big fan of). Openings at big museums in LA are where you (if you’re a mortal like me who doesn’t get invited to premieres and those parties we only know from TV shows about Hollywood) can see the “Who’s Who” of this town. And, as I can see in the newsletter, MOCA managed to fill a whole page with stars attending their Street Art opening. Great. They were all there. I was there. Didn’t see anyone. I guess I was too concentrated on the art. I bet you can see me on one (or more) of these star pictures in the background, staring at the paintings. Oh look, George Clooney – and Ana watching a video. Drew Barrymore – and Ana watching a performance. Brangelina – and Ana examining a painting. No hope here.

Today, I had lunch at The Ivy (if you read gossip magazines like I do, you will know paparazzi pictures of The Ivy terrace which is always filled with famous people). I was sitting next to Ivanka Trump. There were a couple of tables filled with what looked like people I should have recognized. I didn’t. Instead, I tried to take a picture of the chicken car (seriously, the car was yellow and had a huge chicken head  and chicken tail) parked in front of The Ivy. I’d love to share this one with you but I can't get the pictures from my phone into my computer. Will never become a Hollywood reporter.

L.A.ouder Than Life

In a sense, Los Angeles can be said to be a surprisingly quiet city. This is because it is so suburban – a patchwork of quiet neighborhoods with a shopping mall or a collection of restaurants and shops splashed every now and there. The City of Angles sleeps a lot. It goes to sleep early and gets up late. Bars and restaurants will empty around nine or ten and so will the streets. The hum of an 18-million-person city will turn into mysterious peace just occasionally disturbed by a stranded helicopter.  Nights are quiet and long – the hum will reappear long after the birds are awake, around eight.

But the reality is, Los Angeles is louder than life.

Where there are people, there is noise. And in Los Angelos, there are a lot of them. Restaurants tend to be over-packed and always play very loud music so guests must scream to understand each other. And, sorry but – women here tend to have uncomfortably shrill voices. A couple of days ago, the lady sitting to my left spoke in such a loud and strange tone that my left ear started humming and hurting. I was scared for my hearing. It gets so serious sometimes that I will enter a restaurant and decide I am not able to dine in such an aggressive noise.

The same goes for bars: Painful. I went to a roller derby game, all excited about finally seeing LA Derby Dolls playing. It was so loud that after two hours, I had a near physical collapse. I ran out, aware that if I stayed in there, I’d either faint or get a nervous break down. I felt like a punching bag for Mike Tyson after a two hour practice jag.  Shops play music. Malls play music. Cars and motorcycles can be so loud that your eardrums threaten to pop. And there are sirens that make the earth tremble. People talk loudly – even when they find themselves (probably by accident) in a quiet restaurant. Teachers in dance classes turn the music up till the floors are shaking. And then scream over the music.

And then there is the gardening. Mowing machines. Weed whackers. Leaf blowing machines. The secret rulers of Los Angeles: The city of manicured gardens needs an army of well-armed gardeners. Every morning, in one or more neighboring gardens, there is a very loud machine running. For hours. Noise that will penetrate your veins and bones and brain. There is no escape.

It gets worse: L.A. cinemas. They are the reason why I bought my first earplugs ever. They are so loud that even with 32 decibel reducing earplugs, I can follow the movies without any problems. The problems start with action scenes. There are no plugs to fight action scenes (and nobody makes movies without action scenes here anymore). The action is so aggressive and the surround systems so powerful that your seat will shake and your lungs will vibrate till they hurt. It’s a physical attack.

But why?

I ask myself this every time I leave the cinema. Why all those explosions, chases and special effects jumping around the mega screens. I know we have always needed entertainment, magic and getaways – they help us to feel alive.

But attacking the human senses to the point of pain and numbness is not entertaining. It is more like a cheap drug.  A knockout drug. Instead of taking you into magical spheres and opening you for new experiences, those movies will hit you till you’re dead.

And dead we are in L.A. With entertainment louder than life, we are losing our ability to hear life at all. Even at night, when it gets very, very quiet again, we are already too deaf to listen.